A SOUTHAMPTON man has been convicted of shouting foul-mouthed racial abuse at two Premier League footballers in front of his wife, children and grandson.
Everton fan William Blything hurled the racist abuse at Queen's Park Rangers' Korean captain Park Ji-Sung and Everton forward Victor Anichebe as his team drew 1-1 at Loftus Road on October 21.
The 42-year-old, who now lives in Liverpool but is originally from Southampton, denied a single count of racially-aggravated intentional harassment, alarm or distress but was found guilty at West London Magistrates' Court today.
Passing verdict, District Judge Jeremy Coleman said the defendant would not face a custodial penalty when he is sentenced on February 11.
He said: “If the players had heard these comments - and there is no evidence that they did - it would have caused them upset.”
Blything was arrested after he was reported to stewards by two fellow Evertonians as he watched the game with his wife, 16-year-old daughter, 11-year-old son and three-year-old grandson.
Giving evidence in court today, Everton fan Neil Jordan said he was “outraged” by the abuse and posted a picture of Blything on a social media site, before reporting him to stewards.
Mr Jordan said he first noticed Blything as he made one of his children cry by telling him to “man up” when QPR scored a goal.
He later heard the defendant refer to Mr Anichebe, who is originally from Nigeria, using a racially derogatory term, and realised it had not been an isolated incident.
Mr Jordan said: “There was clearly some intent to target that player because, in my opinion, of the colour of his skin, coupled with general agitation and abuse aimed at the home end and abuse towards another opposition player.''
Louise Thomas, prosecuting, told the court that Mr Jordan was left “shaking and distraught” by the abuse.
Also giving evidence, Everton fan John Murmame said he heard Blything shout racially abusive language in reference to Mr Ji-Sung.
He said: “I go to a lot of football games but this was exceptional.
The match saw QPR defender Anton Ferdinand and other teammates refuse to don a T-shirt in support of anti-racism campaign Kick It Out.
Last October, Chelsea captain John Terry was given a four-month suspension and £220,000 fine for racially abusing Ferdinand during a match in October 2011.
District Judge Coleman said he took into account that children had witnessed the abuse.
He said: “This took place at a football match and we have a major problem as far as racist behaviour at football is concerned.”
Defending himself, Blything admitted he had used “foul language” but said it had not been racial in nature.
Originally from Hampshire, he argued that both witnesses - who were at the game separately - had described the offender as having a Liverpool accent, whereas he does not.
Wearing a grey suit and blue shirt, Blything posed for pictures with an Everton scarf after the hearing.
Speaking outside court, he said: “I have never used that kind of language in my life - never have done and never will.
“There is something wrong with the justice system as far as I am concerned.”