A mural painted in support of England trio Marcus Rashford, Jadon Sancho and Bukayo Saka has been defaced in Darlington.
Earlier this week, artwork depicting the numbers 17, 25, and 11 was painted as a show of support following the online racist abuse the three players received after they each missed a penalty in the Euro 2020 final shootout loss to Italy.
However, anti-immigration sentiment was recently written on the wall, which is next to another mural celebrating Arthur Wharton, England’s first black professional footballer.
One of the messages sprayed onto the mural also read “we do not stand with the 3 Black Lions”.
Hundreds of people have taken to social media to condemn the graffiti, which has since been removed.
An event organised by the group Stand Up to Racism also saw anti-racism campaigners gather by the mural in large numbers to stand against the abuse.
The vandalism follows the defacing of a Rashford mural in Withington, Manchester, the 23-year-old’s hometown.
The National Police Chief’s Council revealed on Thursday that a dedicated police unit is working through a significant number of reports of racist abuse directed at footballers on social media.
So far five people have been arrested during the investigations.
Police say the defacing of the Rashford mural in Manchester is “not believed to be of a racial nature”, but investigations continue and forensic specialists are looking at the spray paint used in the attack for further clues.
No arrests have been made and police are appealing for information.
GMP said in a statement: “While the content of the vandalism is not believed to be of a racial nature, officers are keeping an open mind as to the motive behind defacing the artwork.”
Superintendent Richard Timson added: “On Monday morning when we saw the damage done to the mural in Withington we were all left appalled, and we stand with the rest of the community whose solidarity against this vile abuse ever since has really shown the best of our city.
“The person responsible for this knows who they are and we believe there will be others who also suspect the identity of this offender, and I therefore urge anyone with such information to get in touch to help progress our enquiries at speed.”
Since the mural was vandalised, hundreds of messages of support have been placed by the artwork, which was also restored by street artist Akse.
Greater Manchester Police launched an investigation after it received a report of racially aggravated damage at the mural at 2.50am on Monday.
Crowds later gathered for an anti-racism demonstration on Tuesday evening.
Rashford said he was “lost for words” as he thanked people for their messages of support.
A university has withdrawn an offer to a student following racist abuse towards England players after the Euro 2020 final.
Video footage from a Snapchat group chat circulated on Instagram, with one individual heard using racist language towards Rashford, Sancho and Saka.
A spokesperson from Nottingham Trent University said: “This allegation does not involve an NTU student. We do not tolerate any form of discrimination, including racism.
“We looked into this matter immediately and as a result have withdrawn an offer to an applicant.”
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