A football fan has been banned from every ground in the country after making a Nazi-style salute to Leeds United supporters during a heated derby clash.
Huddersfield Town fan Gareth Smith, 28, appeared in court yesterday (Jan 31) charged with making the racist gesture at Whites supporters when the two clubs met at Huddersfield’s John Smith’s Stadium in December.
Smith, from Dalton, Huddersfield, has been condemned by his club and the police in the wake of yesterday’s court hearing.
Huddersfield Town FC and West Yorkshire Police welcomed his conviction, describing his behaviour as “provocative and distressing.”
The court heard that the case came about as a result of Smith’s actions during the Huddersfield Town vs Leeds United match on December 1, 2012 in which he was spotted making a Nazi salute type gesture towards Leeds fans.
Smith was ejected from the ground by Huddersfield stewards who reported the matter to police following the game.
Yesterday, Smith was banned for three years from all England games by Huddersfield Magistrates after being found guilty of a racially aggravated public order offence.
As well as banning him from England games, Smith also received a three year football banning order preventing him from going within a mile of Huddersfield’s John Smith’s Stadium up to three hours before kick off on match days.
The 28-year-old has also been banned from going within five miles of a stadium where Huddersfield are playing on match days and must surrender his passport before England games.
Superintendent David Lunn from the Police in Kirklees said: “We welcome the conviction of Gareth Smith in court today for his provocative and distressing behaviour during the game which clearly caused great offence.
“The conviction sends a strong message that such behaviour will not be tolerated by either Huddersfield Town Football club or West Yorkshire Police.
He added: “We work closely with the football club to tackle abusive behaviour and the consequences for those caught can be severe and long term.”
The memorable match saw Leeds United come away 2-4 winners.