A football fan who made a monkey gesture towards Romelu Lukaku as he played for West Bromwich Albion at Sunderland last season has been given a three-year football banning order.
Liam Jones, 22, was given an 18-month conditional discharge after he admitted causing racially aggravated harassment, alarm or distress while attending Sunderland’s 4-2 defeat to the Midlanders at the Stadium of Light in November.
Belgium international Lukaku scored his side’s third goal from the penalty spot in the 81st minute. As he celebrated the goal, Jones was pictured making a monkey gesture towards the striker.
He originally denied that the gesture was racist, claiming he had been doing a chicken dance, and pleaded not guilty when he appeared at Sunderland magistrates court.
But with the case set to go to trial next month, he opted to enter a guilty plea at a hearing last week.
Chief superintendent Steve Neill, of Northumbria Police, said: "Racist behaviour of any kind will not be tolerated, and Northumbria Police will fully investigate any reports made to us.
"We know people who are responsible for these actions are part of a small minority, and would continue to encourage anyone who sees this kind of behaviour to report it to us and help us rid football of any racism."