U.K. Man Says He Posted Racist Abuse Toward Soccer Players Online to 'Make People Laugh'

A United Kingdom man who pleaded guilty Wednesday to posting racist abuse on social media about three Black players on England's soccer team said that he made the comments to make people laugh, the Associated Press reported.

Scott McCluskey, 43, of Cheshire, posted the comments about Marcus Rashford, Jadon Sancho and Bukayo Saka, the Crown Prosecution Service said, after England lost to Italy in the European Championship match in July.

In the status update posted on his Facebook profile, McCluskey blamed the "three ethnic players" for the loss, used a racial slur and called for them to be removed from the team, the Guardian reported. McCluskey told law enforcement that he had smoked marijuana on the night of the match and didn't realize that the remarks in his post would be viewed as racist.

He deleted the update after it garnered a response from other people on social media, the AP reported. Prosecutor Simon Green said McCluskey's post sparked "condemnation and outrage," even from people who were his "friends."

McCluskey's guilty plea applied to one charge of sending an offensive or abusive message by a public communication network, the Guardian reported.

District Judge Nicholas Sanders said while sentencing McCluskey that the "sort of online abuse" he posted "seems to have gained some sort of traction in our society and it is entirely unacceptable," the BBC reported.

"It is something which has the capability to cause real harm not just to individuals such as the three footballers concerned but to wider society as a whole. This is a foul offense which has far-reaching consequences not only for you but the general public," Sanders said.

For more reporting from the Associated Press, see below.

Mural of Targeted Soccer PLayers
A giant mural in support of England footballers Marcus Rashford, Jadon Sancho and Bukayo Saka was unveiled in Manchester. The England stars were targeted with racist abuse online after they missed penalties in the Euro 2020 final leading to a loss to Italy. The mural at Trafford Park is seen on July 14, 2021, in Manchester, England. Charlotte Tattersall/Getty Images

McCluskey pleaded guilty at Warrington Magistrates' Court. The judge sentenced him to 14 weeks in prison but suspended the sentence for 18 months. McCluskey will also be subject to an electronically monitored curfew on Saturdays and Sundays for 40 weeks.

"Hate crimes such as these have a massive impact on players and their mental health,'' Deputy Chief Crown Prosecutor Elizabeth Jenkins said. "The (Crown Prosecution Service) takes this kind of offending very seriously and this case shows that where offensive content is reported to the police we can successfully bring offenders to justice."

At least 11 people have been arrested in connection with widespread racist abuse directed at the three players after the final, according to the U.K. Football Policing Unit.

England Fans Support Targeted Players
A United Kingdom man who pleaded guilty Wednesday to posting racist abuse on social media about three Black players on England’s soccer team said that he made the comments to make people laugh. Above, children show messages of support for Marcus Rashford, Bukayo Sako and Jadon Sancho during the 2022 FIFA World Cup Qualifier between England and Andorra at Wembley Stadium on September 5, 2021, in London. Marc Atkins/Getty Images