World ban for racist football fan

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A FOOTBALL fan was yesterday barred from matches around the world for hurling racist abuse at players and fans as he watched his local team.

Magistrates blacklisted Daniel James, 21, a Cambridge United fan, from every league ground in England and Wales for two years. And, at Thursday's hearing in Cambridge, chairman Michael Marriott ordered James, who lives in the city, to report to police in Britain when certain overseas fixtures are being played over the same period.

United have banned James from their ground for five years and Tony Blair, the Prime Minister, has held up the handling of the case as an example of how to tackle racism in football.

James admitted hurling threatening and abusive language at players and spectators during a Division Three match with Scarborough at his team's Abbey Stadium ground in January. Cambridge had four black footballers playing and Scarborough had one.

He was spotted by an undercover police officer, one of a team brought in by the club to identify troublemakers after complaints from other fans.

James told the court: "It wasn't solely me. They were songs we have sung for the last 10 years. I go with a group of lads - we always sing the same chants."

But Angela Sassoli, for the prosecution, told the court: "He seemed to be shouting frequently and for no apparent reason."

An exclusion order barred James him from all games in England and Wales and a restriction order banned him from games around the world. He was fined pounds 350 and ordered to pay pounds 50 costs.

Steve Greenall, United's secretary, said the club was pleased by the court's decision but "furious" the law did not allow James to be prosecuted for racist activity.

Under existing laws two or more people must be involved in racist chanting to make it a criminal offence and James was taken to court for using insulting behaviour and likely to cause distress to others.

Proposals to prosecute individuals for racist chanting where included in a Football Task Force package unveiled earlier this week.