Wolves have apologised to England legend Rio Ferdinand and promised a lifetime ban for the ‘fan’ arrested for baiting him with “monkey” noises.
West Midlands Police confirmed they ejected a male supporter for aiming racist bile at the former Manchester United captain.
Ferdinand, who was on duty at Molineux as a BT Sport pundit, told his bigoted tormenter: “Come and meet me and I’ll help you understand how it feels to be racially abused.”
Ferdinand, watching United complete a whole season unbeaten away from home in the Premier League, tweeted: “The last couple of weeks, it’s been unreal to see fans back.
“However, to the Wolves fan who has just been thrown out for doing a monkey chant at me: You need to be dismissed from football & educated. Come meet me & I will help you understand what it feels like to be racially abused!”
Wolves reacted swiftly, tweeting a personal apology to Ferdinand and saying: “We are deeply sorry Rio. This person does not represent our club, our supporters or our values.
“We can confirm that this individual has been arrested by @WMPolice, who we will support to ensure that the strongest action is taken, including a lifetime ban from our club.”
West Midlands Police tweeted: “A 31-year-old man has been arrested at the @Wolves v @ManUtd match this afternoon after a racist gesture was directed at @rioferdy5. We will not tolerate football hate crime.”
The incident soured the return of 8,000 fans to Molineux, many of them venting their displeasure at referee Mike Dean for awarding the penalty which led to Juan Mata’s winner.
Premier League players have continued to take the knee in solidarity ahead of each fixture, with both Wolves and Man Utd doing so on Sunday.
Youngster Anthony Elanga had fired United into a 13th-minute lead, but Nelson Semedo levelled the scoring with his goal for Wolves shortly before the break.
It was in first half injury time that the pivotal moment in the match occurred though, as Donny van de Beek went down in the box under close contact from Wolves defender Roman Saiss.
After a lengthy VAR delay, ref Dean pointed to the spot, with Mata converting the resultant penalty which proved to be decisive.
The result saw Wolves slip a place in the table to 13th following Newcastle’s win over Fulham.
Speaking about the incident on BT Sport, presenter Jake Humphrey said: “The day began with what sounded like boos from some of the fans in here when the players took the knee.
“Then before half-time a fan was ejected right in front of us for what looked like a monkey chant towards you [Ferdinand].
“Just shows there is still so much to do when it comes to why players are taking the knee.”
Ferdinand added: “Unfortunately just had a tweet come through from West Midlands police saying the fan has been arrested and is currently in custody, as they take racism really seriously which is pleasing to see and refreshing.
“But, listen, I’d love to meet up with the fella and educate him a little bit. That’s part of the problem.
“Punishing people without education isn’t the way forward and it’s disappointing. People have been waiting months, over a year to get back into the stadium with ignorance like that. Uncalled for, not needed, not warranted at all. Disappointed really.
“But that’s just a very small minority in this stand that was doing it. We were having banter with the fans. The emotion and atmosphere they created today, that was just one person that tries to destroy it for everyone else.
“That’s just somebody who has no awareness at all about their surroundings, about the current climate of things. Again, someone obviously lacking any form of education to know what’s right or wrong.
Asked if he would actually like to meet the fan, Ferdinand replied: “Yeah 100%. I think that’s part of the problem when situations like this arise and they just get punished with no education to what they’re doing and why people stand up against things like this.”