A 32-year-old Wolves fan called Rio Ferdinand a “f***ing monkey” after putting his hands under his armpits and jumping to mimic the animal, a court a has heard.
Jamie Arnold, of Staffordshire, is accused of using threatening, abusive or insulting words towards the former England centre back when Wolves hosted Manchester United at Molineux in May 2021.
CCTV footage played to the court allegedly showed Arnold appearing to make the gesture. He is also alleged to have chanted “One John Terry, there’s only one John Terry.”
The court heard that Arnold also made a number of homophobic comments towards referee Mike Dean and referred to him as a “f***ing gay boy.”
Arnold pleaded not guilty to the charges last August and has been on bail on the condition he not attend any Wolves home games at Molineux stadium.
He was ejected from the stadium by police during the first round of fixtures in which fans could return following Covid-19 after stewards were alerted to Ferdinand, who was working for BT Sport as a pundit, being abused.
Ferdinand discussed the incident on air afterwards, saying:
It’s pleasing and refreshing that it’s been taken so seriously but I’d love to meet up with the fella and educate him a little bit” he said. “Punishing people without education isn’t the way forward.
Ferdinand, dressed in a grey shirt and wearing dark sunglasses, arrived at the court ahead of this morning’s trial.
Prosecutor Jason Arris said that other Wolves supporters in Mr Arnold’s vicinity “were uncomfortable by what they heard” and said that he “was definitely under the influence of alcohol – he was slurring his words and uneasy on his feet.”
Mr Arris said:
Mr Ferdinand was aware of a group of supporters who were shouting rather enthusiastically at him. Mr Ferdinand noticed this defendant was focusing all of his attention on him, he was giving hand gestures and jumping up and down and misbehaving himself. Mr Ferdinand, being the professional that he is, chose to ignore this behaviour.
The defendant was pointing towards the direction of the Billy Wright Stand where Mr Ferdinand was stood. This defendant put his hands underneath his armpits and started to jump around where he clearly tried to imitate and mimic a monkey.
It was clearly intended to be racist. People who were at the match heard this defendant shout ‘Rio you f****** monkey. Supporters who witnessed this were appalled, they were disgusted by the defendant’s behaviour. He persisted, shouting ‘One John Terry, there’s only one John Terry.’
The trial continues.