(AP) — British police launched an investigation
Monday into racist abuse
directed toward three Black
players who missed penalties in England
's shootout loss to Italy
in the European Championship
The Metropolitan Police
have condemned the "unacceptable" abuse of Marcus Rashford
, Jadon Sancho, and Bukayo Sako, and have stated that they will look into the "offensive and racist" social media
posts that were published shortly after Italy won the shootout 3-2 after the match ended 1-1.
The English Football
Association was “appalled” by the “disgusting behavior,” adding that social media companies should take action to ensure that their platforms are free of this “abhorrent” abuse.
“We will do everything we can to support the players affected while urging the harshest punishments possible for anyone responsible,” the FA said, adding, “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 that this abuse has real-life consequences.”
All three players targeted are members of a young England squad that has been widely praised for its diversity
and social conscience. Rashford, for example, has been at the forefront of a campaign against child poverty
, convincing the British government
to reinstate free lunches for thousands of poor children
in the face of the coronavirus pandemic
Despite British Prime Minister Boris Johnson
's statement that "those responsible for this appalling abuse should be ashamed of themselves," he has been chastised for encouraging those booing the England team to take a knee before games to protest
Last month, Johnson's spokesman said the prime minister is "more focused on action rather than gestures," prompting widespread criticism that Johnson was effectively encouraging those booing to continue. Three days later, his spokesman changed tack, saying the prime minister "respects the right of all people
to peacefully protest and express their feelings about injustices," and that he "respects the right of all people to peacefully protest and express their feelings about injustices."
Gareth Southgate, England's coach, called the abuse directed at the players "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 everyone, so that togetherness must continue,” Southgate said Monday.
Former Manchester United
player Gary Neville, now a TV commentator, said he wasn't surprised that the three players who missed their penalties were subjected to racist abuse and singled out Johnson.
“The prime minister said it was OK for the people of this country to boo those players who are trying to promote equality and defend against racism
,” he said on Sky News
, adding, “It starts at the very top, and so I wasn’t surprised in the least that I woke up this morning to those headlines.”
Home Secretary Priti Patel condemned the abuse as well, but she was chastised for encouraging those booing the players by referring to their actions as "gesture politics
The FA's president
, Prince William
, added his voice to the chorus of condemnation, saying he was "sickened" by the racist abuse directed at England players.
“It is completely unacceptable that players must put up with this abhorrent behavior,” he wrote on Twitter
, adding that “it must stop now and all those involved must be held accountable.”
Sadiq Khan, the Mayor
of London, has urged social media companies to do more to hold offenders accountable.
“There is absolutely no place for racism in football or anywhere else,” he wrote on Twitter, adding that “those responsible for the disgusting online abuse we have seen must be held accountable - and social media companies must act immediately to remove and prevent this hate.”
Earlier in the tournament, racist abuse was directed at players.
Following a legal complaint from several anti-racism organizations, the Paris prosecutor's office launched an investigation into a slew of racist tweets after France
was eliminated in the round of 16 on penalties by Switzerland.
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