Manchester City fan Anthony Burke was captured making a monkey gesture towards Manchester United stars Fred, Jesse Lingard and Anthony Martial as a steward tells a court ‘it was racism’
A lout has been banned from football grounds for three years for racially abusing players.
Manchester City fan Anthony Burke, 42, was seen on TV making a monkey gesture towards Fred, Jesse Lingard and Anthony Martial – of rivals United – as they prepared to take a corner in a derby match.
He was arrested the day after United’s 2-1 Premier League victory at the Etihad Stadium in December 2019.
Burke had pleaded not guilty in August last year to a racially aggravated public order offence but a judge found him guilty after a trial at Tameside magistrates’ court.
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In footage beamed around the world and shown in court, Burke could be seen with his mouth open, with both hands raised to his waist.
Frank Coulson, a steward at the stadium, told the court: “It was racism. I saw a large gentleman with a beard going: ‘Oo, oo, oo, oo’ – 100% that’s what he was doing.
“I have never seen anyone do a monkey chant.
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“The air can be blue where I work but what made this one different was it was below the belt. ”
Burke said he had sworn at the players but denied it was racist.
He claimed he had reacted to a gesture made towards the supporters by United player Martial, saying: “What came out of my mouth was ‘ooooo’ – it was a continuous noise.”
He said it was designed to show the player that he “wasn’t bothered”.
But District Judge Margaret McCormack said she didn’t find it “credible that you were responding to the United player in kind”, adding: “You were bothered. Your team was being beaten.
“It was like a powder keg. You did act as alleged by Mr Coulson.”
Burke, of Wythenshawe, left court without comment.
He was also ordered to pay a £500 fine, plus £200 in costs and a £50 victim levy.
After the case Det Con Susan Muldowney said: “The Manchester derby is a fixture that usually shows the best of Manchester but that night Anthony Burke appalled the city and the wider football community.”