LONDON (AP) – British police on Monday launched an investigation into the racial abuse of three black players who missed penalties in defeating England’s shooting in Italy in the European Championship final.
Metropolitan police have condemned “unacceptable” abuses of Marcus Rashford, Jadon Sancho and Bukayo Sako, saying they will investigate the “offensive and racist” social media posts made shortly after Italy won Sunday’s 3-2 shootout the match ended 1-1. 1.
The English Football Association said it was “shocked” by the “disgusting behavior”, adding that social media companies must take clear action to the platforms of this “disgusting” abuse.
“We will do everything we can to support the affected players while pushing for the toughest penalties possible for all those responsible,” the FA said. “We will continue to do everything we can to eliminate discrimination, but we urge the government to act quickly and put in place the right legislation so that this abuse has real consequences.”
All three targeted players are part of a young England squad that is widely acclaimed for its diversity and social awareness. For example, Rashford led an anti-child poverty campaign that convinced the UK government to restore free lunch for thousands of poor children amid the coronavirus pandemic.
Although British Prime Minister Boris Johnson said “those responsible for this terrible abuse should be ashamed”, he was criticized for encouraging those who booed the England team to take a knee before the matches in protest of racial injustice. .
Last month, Johnson’s spokesman said the prime minister is “more focused on action than gesture”. This comment provoked widespread criticism that Johnson was effectively encouraging people to continue. Three days later, his spokesman changed course, saying the prime minister “respected everyone’s right to protest peacefully and express their feelings about injustice” and that he wanted to encourage and “not boo” the team.
England coach Gareth Southgate described the abuse against the players as “unforgivable”.
“We’ve been a light in the light of bringing people together, of people who can relate to the national team, and the national team stands for everyone and so that together must continue,” Southgate said on Monday.
Gary Neville, a former Manchester United player and now a TV commentator, said he was not surprised that the three players who missed penalties were the target of racial abuse and exclaimed Johnson.
“The Prime Minister said it was okay for the people of this country to bother players who are trying to promote equality and defend themselves against racism,” he told Sky News. “It starts at the very top and so for me it wasn’t the little surprise that I woke up this morning following these titles.”
Home Secretary Priti Patel also condemned the abuse, but was also criticized for encouraging those who boo players by describing their actions as “political gestures.”
Prince William, who is president of the FA, joined the chorus of condemnation, saying he was “sick” of the racist abuse against England players.
“It is totally acceptable that players have to endure this abominable behavior,” he wrote on Twitter. “It must stop now and everyone involved must be held accountable.”
London Mayor Sadiq Khan has called on social media companies to do more to hold offenders accountable.
“There is absolutely no place for racism in football or anywhere else,” he wrote in a Twitter post. “Those responsible for the disgusting online abuse we have witnessed must be held accountable – and social media companies must act immediately to remove and prevent this hatred.”
Racist abuse against players was reported earlier in the competition.
Following a legal complaint from several anti-racism groups, the Paris prosecutor’s office launched an investigation into a series of racist tweets after France lost to Switzerland on penalties in the round of 16.
More AP football: https://apnews.com/hub/soccer and https://twitter.com/AP_Sports
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