Racist footballer jailed for hurling abuse and elbowing opponent
An Ashford footballer has been given his second “red card” for smashing his elbow into the face of an opponent, breaking his jaw in three places.
Luke Burdon’s first punishment was being sent off for the nasty incident in the Kent County League match between South Darenth v Kennington reserves game in February last year.
Now the 19-year-old has received his marching orders – this time to a young offender’s institute for two years after admitting the racially aggravated attack on his opponent.
Judge James O’Mahony told him: “You used foul, disgraceful racist language in a very nasty attack.
“For years right-minded people have striven to kick racism out of football.
“Football is the national game. People love it and they want their children to grow up enjoying it. But they won’t want to do that if it is violent and associated with racist language.”
The judge heard how as he broke his opponent’s jaw in three places, he snarled the ‘F’ and ‘N’ words at him.
Burdon’s lawyer Guy Wyatt asked the judge for an indication on sentence at Canterbury Crown Court.
After initially rejecting a two year maximum sentence, Burdon, of Hillbrow Lane, returned to court and changed his plea to guilty.
The teenager looked shocked as Judge James O’Mahony rejected a defence application to consider suspending the sentence.
The judge told him: “There must be an immediate custodial sentence – suspending it is quite out of the question because it is so serious.”
Prosecutor Benjamin Burge told how the incident happened in the 70th minute of the match when Mr Abuker successfully tackled Burdon before clearing the ball upfield.
“You used foul, disgraceful racist language in a very nasty attack” – Judge James O’Mahony
As he walked away to continue the game, Burdon approached him and hit him in the face with his elbow, shouting racist abuse.
Burdon was then given a red card and later received a lengthy ban for the unprovoked attack.
Mr Abuker underwent a three-hour operation to insert a plate into his face – but has since returned to playing football.
Judge O’Mahony told Burden: “You allowed the red mist to descend on you, because you didn’t like being dispossessed of the ball, whether you overran it or were tackled, perhaps it matters not.
“You play this great game and you must expect that sometimes things don’t go your way. But you followed your opponent and after using horrible language – you smashed your elbow into his face.
“I am not saying that you are racist. I am prepared to accept that you are not.”
After the hearing, Sergeant Wayne Shepherd said: “Racism is completely unacceptable in any circumstance.
“The ‘let’s kick racism out of football’ campaign is well-known, and this particular case shows that there are serious consequences for those who engage in that behaviour.”
Burdon appeared before a Kent FA hearing in March 2016 where he was suspended from playing any football for three years.
Kennington FC club chairman Jon Lancaster said Burdon had only played a few matches for the reserve team, but played more regularly elsewhere.
Mr Lancaster said: “It happened right in front of me and I heard it. It hadn’t been a dirty game at all, it was completely out of the blue. It was a shocking incident and not something the football club tolerates at all.
“We have a zero tolerance approach to racism that you would expect from all football clubs.
“After the game we were spoken to by the police, and we washed our hands of him from that point.
“He only played a few games for us and usually played at a higher standard.”
Mr Lancaster said that Burdon had enjoyed success at other clubs such as Willesborough, where he had been a prolific goalscorer, but had thrown it away.
From: Kent Messenger