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Omar Bogle: Newport striker speaks out on racist abuse as man pleads guilty to racially abusing him at Gillingham

Ben Burchell, who is 28 and has learning difficulties, escaped a football banning order but was given 40 hours of community service after pleading guilty to racially abusing Newport's Omar Bogle; Warning: story contains offensive content that readers may find upsetting

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Warning: This interview contains offensive content that readers may find upsetting

For Omar Bogle, October 28 2023 will not be remembered for the two goals he scored for Newport in a 2-0 win away to Gillingham.

Because on that day, after scoring his first penalty of the game, he was racially abused by a Gillingham supporter.

As Bogle celebrated his first goal, a fan ran over and made a monkey gesture directly in front of him.

Ben Burchell, who is 28 and has learning difficulties, has escaped a football banning order but been given 40 hours of community service after pleading guilty to racially abusing Bogle.

Burchell admitted a charge of racially aggravated breach of public order at Medway Magistrates court.

In pleading mitigation, Wayne Crowhurst for the defence said Burchell has both dyspraxia and severe autism. He pointed out that Burchell usually attends Gillingham matches with a carer, but on this occasion he was at the game on his own.

The district judge, William Nelson, sentenced Burchell to 40 hours of unpaid work and ordered him to pay £200 in compensation to Bogle.

He also told Burchell he was no longer allowed to attend professional football matches on his own for a period of 12 months. He can, however, still attend if accompanied by another adult.

Bogle sat down with Sky Sports News in November last year, just days after the incident had taken place.

"At first I didn't realise what he was doing," Bogle said. But once Bogle was told by team-mates what had happened, reality kicked in. Although on reflection, he had almost felt it coming.

"Before I scored, it's like the energy towards me and the reaction from their supporters was crazy," said Bogle.

"You could see the hate in people's faces. Like when they're shouting abuse at me and all the rest of it.

"The first thing somebody will say to that is it's because you're the main player for the team and they want to throw you off your game. But if we're going to deal with facts - our top scorer is Will Evans, [who is white].

"So if anyone's a threat it's him. He's scored the most goals, but there's no hate directed at him. So why is it directed at me?

"But then that incident happens, and when he does it, the supporters behind him - not all of them because I was told a few did point him out to the authorities - but the majority of them are clapping, laughing, and finding it funny.

"They are big advocates of that kind of behaviour and that kind of mindset. Those people are comfortable with having someone like him among them.

"They have kind of enabled that kind of behaviour and they think that's okay."

Gillingham said at the time that Burchell was arrested within 30 seconds of the incident and announced a lifetime ban for him not long after the final whistle.

Although in good spirits when speaking to Sky Sports News, the incident has certainly left its mark on Bogle.

"I remember even on the coach back, it was a long journey back and at one point I almost shed a tear. When it was all sinking in, I was thinking: 'What actually just happened?'

"There's a part of me that's glad it was so blatant, and it was so obvious. Because now it's something that people can't deny.

"It's still in our game. It's still prevalent in life. There are some things that I know and feel are racially motivated in football. For me to explain it, people would look at me as if I've got two heads.

"How do we get people to not think that way? The hate that you have in your heart to someone because they look different to you. How do we remove that?"

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