Police have arrested four people for racially abusing England players online after Sunday’s Euro 2020 final defeat to Italy and warned those perpetrators who still walk free that “we will track you down”.
The abuse received by Marcus Rashford, Jadon Sancho and Bukayo Saka, who were targeted after missing penalties at Wembley on Sunday, was condemned by the government and the FA.
A police statement read: “A hate crime investigation is underway by the UK Football Policing Unit (UKFPU), with a dedicated team of investigators working their way through a large number of reports from across the country.
“Dozens of data applications have been submitted to social media companies and four people have been arrested by local police forces.”
In a stark warning to those guilty of sending online abuse, Chief Constable Mark Roberts, National Police Chiefs’ Council Football Policing Lead, said: “If we identify that you are behind this crime, we will track you down, and you will face the serious consequences of your shameful actions.
“The racial abuse aimed at our own players following Sunday night’s game is utterly vile and has quite rightly shocked and appalled people across the country.
“Our England team have been true role models during the tournament, conducting themselves with professionalism and dignity. I’m disgusted there are individuals out there who think it’s acceptable to direct such abhorrent abuse at them, or at anybody else.”
There were 264 arrests made across the whole country in connection with Sunday’s final and 897 football-related incidents. It takes the number of arrests for the tournament to 630.
This is a significant increase compared to criminal incidents seen at the 2018 World Cup in Russia and Euro 2016 in France.
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The Euro 2020 final at Wembley could have been abandoned had police officers not intervened, the Met Police’s deputy assistant commissioner has said.
Crowds of ticketless fans pushed through security and fought with police to try and get into the England vs Italy game on Sunday.
Deputy assistant commissioner Jane Connors, who led the force’s response to the tournament, said she did “not accept that the policing operation failed” and she has “no doubt” that intervention by police stopped the disruption from escalating.
She said a day that was meant to be of “national pride” was “sadly tarnished by a minority of disorderly and violent fans who attempted to hijack the final for their own selfish personal gain”.
“Ahead of the final, police commanders deployed one of the most significant and comprehensive policing plans the Met has ever committed to a football match of this scale”, she added.