18-year-old Patrick O’Brien sent 20 racist private messages to retired Arsenal forward Ian Wright. O’Brien lost a game of FIFA while playing with an Ian Wright icon and responded by insulting the actual Ian Wright with racist abuse, as reported by Eurogamer. Wright posted the Irish teen’s horrific messages on May 11, 2020 via his Twitter account, which included slurs and graphic death threats.
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In the court case that followed, O’Brien pled guilty to two charges but was not convicted. O’Brien offered Wright a written apology (which Wright accepted) and donated £500 to the Irish Network Against Racism.
Wright, however, had more to say about the verdict nearly a year after the event.
“This case was never about revenge,” the footballer wrote in his tweet photo. “It was always about consequences for acts of racism. My forgiveness of this young man was for my own deeply personal need and desire to move forward without further anguish. I’m a 57 year old man that has experienced racism throughout my life. I wasn’t expecting my forgiveness to be an invitation to lighten a sentence.”
“So yeah I’m disappointed,” Wright continued. “I’m tired. We are all tired.”
In the aftermath of the verdict, Electronic Arts (EA) issued a lifetime ban to O’Brien. The FIFA developer has axed all of the gamer’s FIFA accounts.
“Ian Wright is part of our EA Sports family,” David Jackson, VP of Brand at EA Sports FIFA, told Eurogamer. “We hugely value his partnership and support, and we also want him to know he has our support. Last year, Ian was subject to a terrible, racist verbal attack by a player who lost a match of FIFA 20. This behavior by the player was unacceptable on every level, and we will not tolerate it. Our Positive Play Charter guides our actions in a situation like this, and we’ve taken the action to ban the player permanently from playing or accessing our games. Racism must stop. We are committed to continuing our work in positive play, through actions that will make our communities fun, fair, and safe for everyone.”
Wright praised EA’s response on an episode of Ringer FC, a podcast dedicated to soccer news.
“EA Sports bro, they stepped up for me,” Wright said on the podcast. “After this attack they changed their whole policy. And you know with a company like that, the different levels, and can you imagine the legality you have to go through to change your policy? Not only for me, it’s for their staff, for players, the talent, the people they partner with. Zero tolerance. Zero tolerance. And action will be taken.”
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