Gareth Southgate, the Football Association and Prime Minister Boris Johnson have condemned racist online abuse suffered by a number of England players following the Euro 2020 loss to Italy.
Marcus Rashford, Jadon Sancho and Bukayo Saka all failed from the spot on Sunday night as England went down on penalties.
The trio’s social media pages were quickly flooded with racist comments, leading the FA to release a statement condemning the “disgusting behaviour”.
England manager Southgate said the discrimination directed at the three players following the defeat at Wembley demonstrates the antithesis of what the national team’s values are and the “togetherness” that the squad has shown.
When asked about the abuse, he said: “It’s just not what we stand for. 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.
“We have shown the power our country has when it does come together and has that energy and positivity together.
“It’s my decision who takes the penalties, it’s not a case of players not volunteering or more experienced players backing out.”
An FA spokesperson said support will be given to the trio affected and English football’s governing body have implored the government and technology companies to take robust action on the issue.
A statement read: “The FA strongly condemns all forms of discrimination and is appalled by the online racism that has been aimed at some of our England players on social media.
“We could not be clearer that anyone behind such disgusting behaviour is not welcome in following the team. We will do all we can to support the players affected while urging the toughest punishments possible for anyone responsible.
“We will continue to do everything we can to stamp discrimination out of the game, but we implore the government to act quickly and bring in the appropriate legislation so this abuse has real life consequences.
“Social media companies need to step up and take accountability and action to ban abusers from their platforms, gather evidence that can lead to prosecution and support making their platforms free from this type of abhorrent abuse.”
The Metropolitan Police also condemned the “unacceptable” abuse, adding it will be investigating the “offensive and racist” social media posts.
The force said in a statement on Twitter: “We are aware of a number of offensive and racist social media comments being directed towards footballers following the #Euro2020 final.
“This abuse is totally unacceptable, it will not be tolerated and it will be investigated.”
The official Twitter account for the England men’s and women’s national teams offered support to the victimised players.
It said in a statement: “We’re disgusted that some of our squad – who have given everything for the shirt this summer – have been subjected to discriminatory abuse online after tonight’s game.
“We stand with our players.”
Facebook, owners of Instagram, say a number of users on the platform were removed and comments were deleted in the wake of the abuse which was sent to the England trio. The social media company declined Sky Sports News’ request to appear in an on-camera interview.
A Facebook company spokesperson has told Sky Sports News: “No one should have to experience racist abuse anywhere, and we don’t want it on Instagram.
“We quickly removed comments and accounts directing abuse at England’s footballers last night and we’ll continue to take action against those that break our rules.
“In addition to our work to remove this content, we encourage all players to turn on Hidden Words, a tool which means no one has to see abuse in their comments or DMs.
“No one thing will fix this challenge overnight, but we’re committed to keeping our community safe from abuse.”
Sky Sports News has also approached Twitter for a response regarding this issue and has offered them the opportunity to comment in an on-camera interview.
PM: ‘Those responsible should be ashamed’
Prime Minister Johnson also offered his support for the players.
This England team deserve to be lauded as heroes, not racially abused on social media.
Those responsible for this appalling abuse should be ashamed of themselves.
— Boris Johnson (@BorisJohnson) July 12, 2021
“This England team deserve to be lauded as heroes, not racially abused on social media,” he tweeted. “Those responsible for this appalling abuse should be ashamed of themselves.”
London Mayor Sadiq Khan called on social media companies to do more to hold to account those responsible for sending online abuse.
He wrote on Twitter: “There is absolutely no place for racism in football or anywhere else. Those responsible for the disgusting online abuse we have seen must be held accountable – and social media companies need to act immediately to remove and prevent this hate.”
I am sickened by the racist abuse aimed at England players after last night’s match.
It is totally unacceptable that players have to endure this abhorrent behaviour.
It must stop now and all those involved should be held accountable. W
— The Duke and Duchess of Cambridge (@KensingtonRoyal) July 12, 2021
Prince William, the Duke of Cambridge, added: “I am sickened by the racist abuse aimed at England players after last night’s match.
“It is totally unacceptable that players have to endure this abhorrent behaviour. It must stop now and all those involved should be held accountable.”
‘Pride in Saka turned to sorrow after online abuse’
Arsenal have strongly condemned the “disgusting” abuse sent to their player Bukayo Saka, along with the discriminatory messages directed towards his two England team-mates.
The Gunners also expressed immense pride in their 19-year-old academy product, who shone for England throughout Euro 2020.
A club statement read: “Bukayo has been with us since he was seven and the whole club couldn’t have been prouder to see him represent England throughout the tournament. You could feel it right across the club.
“Last night we witnessed the leadership and character we’ve always known and loved in Bukayo. However, this feeling of pride quickly turned to sorrow at the racist comments our young player was subjected to on his social media platforms after the final whistle.
“Once again, we are sad to have to say we condemn the racism of a number black players. This cannot continue and the social media platforms and authorities must act to ensure this disgusting abuse to which our players are subjected on a daily basis stops now.
“We have processes in place internally at Arsenal to ensure our players are supported both emotionally and practically on this issue but sadly there is only so much we can do.
“Our message to Bukayo is: hold your head high, we are so very proud of you and we cannot wait to welcome you back home to Arsenal soon.”
Tottenham showed their support to Saka by tweeting a photo of their striker Harry Kane embracing the Arsenal winger alongside the caption: “We stand together”.
Spurs added: “We are driven by inclusion and equality and nobody should have to endure the repulsive online abuse seen recently.”
Marcus Rashford’s club Manchester United wrote: “Racist abuse will never be tolerated, for club nor for country.”
Everton said: “It is completely unacceptable that anyone should be subjected to racist abuse. We stand with England to condemn all forms of abuse and discrimination that some of the squad were subjected to after last night’s game.”
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