British police opened investigations Monday into the racist abuse of three Black players who missed penalties in England’s shootout loss to Italy in the European Championship final.
The Metropolitan Police condemned the “unacceptable” abuse of Marcus Rashford, Jadon Sancho and Bukayo Sako, and said they will be investigating the “offensive and racist” social media posts published soon after Italy won the shootout 3-2 after the match ended 1-1 after extra time.
The English Football Association said on Monday it was “appalled” by the “disgusting behaviour,” adding that social media companies should take action to make their platforms free from this “abhorrent” abuse.
“We will do all we can to support the players affected while urging the toughest punishments possible for anyone responsible,” the FA said.
“We will continue to do everything we can to stamp discrimination out of the game, but we implore government to act quickly and bring in the appropriate legislation so this abuse has real life consequences.”
Well said, Gareth Southgate 👏#HateWontWin
— BBC Sport (@BBCSport) July 12, 2021
All three players targeted are part of a young England squad that has been widely praised for its diversity and social conscience.
Rashford, for one, has been at the forefront of a campaign against child poverty, which convinced the British government to restore free lunches for thousands of poor children amid the coronavirus pandemic.
Though British Prime Minister Boris Johnson said “those responsible for this appalling abuse should be ashamed of themselves,” he has faced criticism for emboldening those booing the England team for taking a knee before their matches to protest against racial injustice.
Horrendous racist abuse over night piled on players who gave their all and did England fans proud. We stand with them, and @England are right that social media firms must do more to stamp this out. This is why the players take the knee. https://t.co/9VFvCAx7ec
— HOPE not hate (@hopenothate) July 12, 2021
England coach Gareth Southgate described the abuse directed at the players as “unforgivable.”
“We have been a beacon of light in bringing people together, in people being able to relate to the national team, and the national team stands for everybody and so that togetherness has to continue,” Southgate said Monday.
This is why I never want to see England win anything. Here, they're beating up Italian fans leaving Wembley. #EURO2020 #Euro2020Final #ENG #ITA #ItalyEngland #ItalyVsEngFinal #englishfans pic.twitter.com/14H6xg9TL9
— Vin Nair (@vinsinners) July 12, 2021
Gary Neville, a former Manchester United player and now a TV commentator, said he wasn’t surprised that the three players who missed their penalties were targeted for racist abuse and called out Mr Johnson.
“The prime minister said it was OK for the population of this country to boo those players who are trying to promote equality and defend against racism,” he said on Sky News.
“It starts at the very top and so for me I wasn’t surprised in the slightest that I woke up this morning to those headlines.”
Prince William, who is the president of the FA, joined the chorus of condemnation, saying he was “sickened” by the racist abuse aimed at the England players.
“It is totally unacceptable that players have to endure this abhorrent behaviour,” he wrote on Twitter.
“It must stop now and all those involved should be held accountable.”