Ian Wright 'emotional and shook up’ after receiving vile racist abuse from teen over FIFA game

ARSENAL legend Ian Wright has told how he was "emotional and shook up" after he was racially abused by teenager over a FIFA game.

Patrick O’Brien, 18, sent a tirade of vile racist abuse to the Match of the Day pundit after he felt the player let him down on the console, a court heard.


O’Brien was playing the FIFA game with a pal on a Playstation and downloaded the former Arsenal FC and England international player as his legend.

However the teen lost the match and directed his anger at Wright by sending 20 vile and racist messages to the pundit via private messaging on Instagram, the District Court in Co Kerry, Ireland, heard today.

In a victim impact statement today, Wright said he was emotional and shook up by the intensity of the attacks, saying: "I experienced racism years ago, but I am in complete shock to experience it now."

BELIEVE IN REDEMPTION

In a second statement, Wright addressed O’Brien directly and told him he forgave him.

He said: "Patrick, I forgive you. I believe in redemption for everyone. I hope that you and also those who either taught you or enabled this hate will learn from this and change for the better."

Most of the messages sent by Patrick O’Brien and read out in court are too racist and threatening to be published.

The vile messages contained the N word and other racist names.

In one the teen stated “you’re like a 65 year old . If I get corona I will cough in your face and give you your death sentence. If I see you I will put you on your death bed”.

'CRASS, RACIST AND THREATENING'

Wright had planned to attend court in person but because of Covid and travel restrictions he instead sent on the statements to the Gardai which were read out in court.

O’Brien from Tralee, Co Kerry, pleaded guilty to two charges of harassing Mr Wright on May 11 and to sending by telephone a message that was grossly offensive, obscene and menacing.

Sgt Eoin Donovan told the court that while playing the FIFA game, O’Brien was given an option to download a legend and he chose Ian Wright.

He said: “He lost the tournament and got mad because he believed Ian Wright did not perform as well as he had hoped. He decided to message him on his Instagram privately.

“The messages were crass, racist and threatening in nature.

"They were private messages but appeared on a public post the following morning put up by Mr Wright who took screen shots of them and put them on his public page expressing his disappointment and upset.”

The Sergeant said there was a huge reaction on social media with both Mr Wright’s and O’Briens accounts inundated with comments from all over the world.

He said as soon as O’Brien’s mother realised what had happened she immediately brought her son to the Garda Station where he fully co-operated with their investigation.

40 MILLION HITS

The court was told by defending lawyer Patrick Mann that the messages sent by O’Brien were private and became public knowledge when Mr Wright tweeted screenshots of a number of messages he received on Instagram. 

Mr Mann said that the teenager had never been in trouble before. As a result of what he did while in a virtual reality world and because “of a rush of blood to the head” it went out into a very public forum.

He said if the names of Wright and O’Brien are put into a search it shows that are over 40 million hits on the messages.

All of O’Briens social media forums have been shut down.

But Judge David Waters said that Mr Wright did nothing wrong in going public and said: “He had the right to call out a racist who sent him this material.

"Whether in writing or on Instagram it has exactly the same effect. It is out there even longer on social media and he was right to call out something so vile”.

He added the player had taken a “very charitable view” of it.

He was right to “shine a light on this vile, abusive and racist” attack on him

The judge adjourned sentencing of O’Brien to January next year to allow a probation report to be prepared.

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