Fan Receives Three-Year Ban for Racist Gesture Towards Tottenham Captain Son Heung-min During during a match between Tottenham and Crystal Palace:
A 44-year-old football fan, Robert Garland, has received a 3-year ban from attending any matches after admitting to racially abusing Tottenham forward Son Heung-min during a Premier League game last season.
The abusive incident occurred on May 15, 2022 during Tottenham’s home match against Crystal Palace at Tottenham Hotspur Stadium. Son was substituted in the 84th minute of the game, which Tottenham went on to win 1-0. As Son left the pitch, video footage clearly showed Garland making an offensive ‘slant-eye’ gesture directed at the South Korean player.
Garland’s actions were widely shared and condemned on social media. Both Tottenham and Crystal Palace issued immediate lifetime bans prohibiting him from attending their respective matches. The London Metropolitan Police opened an investigation into the incident as well.
In June 2022, Garland pleaded guilty to a charge of racially aggravated harassment over the incident. In addition to the 3-year match ban handed down by the court, Garland was also ordered to pay a £965 fine and perform 150 hours of community service.
Authorities warned Garland’s case highlights their zero tolerance policy for discrimination at matches. Offenders face prosecution and match bans intended to exclude them from the sport they claim to be fans of. The 3-year ban means Garland will be prohibited from attending the 2024 European Championships, limiting his opportunities to follow the English national team.
Son Heung-min was named captain of Tottenham this season by new manager Antonio Conte, taking over the armband from long-time captain Hugo Lloris. He has continued to be a star for the north London side, who have had an impressive start to the 2022-2023 Premier League campaign.
The team did suffer its first defeat this past Monday in a wild 4-1 loss against Chelsea. The heated London derby saw two red cards given out along with an incredible five disallowed goals before Chelsea ultimately prevailed.
The incident involving Garland and Son came at the end of a Premier League season overshadowed by numerous racist abuses aimed at players. In February 2022, a Manchester United fan was arrested for allegedly racially abusing Son’s teammate Eric Bailly during a match.
Brentford striker Ivan Toney was also the target of a racist message online after a game against Arsenal. The spree of abuse led the Premier League to organize a week of action dedicated to fighting racism and raising awareness. Clubs emphasized the need for fans to report discriminatory behavior they witness at games.
While progress has been made, Son’s case highlights how racism unfortunately remains a problem surrounding the sport. Son continues to have an outstanding season, leading the Premier League in goals scored and helping Tottenham compete near the top of the table.