UK PM Johnson, England's Football Association condemn racist abuse of players

England players look on during a penalty shootout at Wembley Stadium in London, on July 11, 2021.
England players look on during a penalty shootout at Wembley Stadium in London, on July 11, 2021. © Carl Recine, pool via Reuters

British Prime Minister Boris Johnson on Monday condemned racist abuse on social media aimed at players of the England football team after their narrow defeat in the final of Euro 2021.


Police said they would also investigate the comments made towards Black England players Marcus Rashford, Jadon Sancho and Bukayo Saka, who missed spot-kicks in a penalty shootout with Italy following a 1-1 draw on Sunday.

“This England team deserve to be lauded as heroes, not racially abused on social media,” Johnson said on Twitter.  “Those responsible for this appalling abuse should be ashamed of themselves.”

Britain’s Prince William joined the chorus of condemnation of the online racial abuse on Monday.

“I am sickened by the racist abuse aimed at England players after last night’s match,” William, who is president of the English Football Association and Queen Elizabeth’s grandson, said on Twitter.

“It is totally unacceptable that players have to endure this abhorrent behaviour. It must stop now and all those involved should be held accountable,” the prince added.

The England team has been highlighting the issue of racism throughout the tournament, taking the knee before all their matches. However, some fans have booed the gesture, with critics viewing it as an unwanted politicisation of sport and expression of sympathy with far-left politics.

The social media feeds of the players also showed huge levels of support and gratitude from fans for the tournament.

“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,” the England team tweeted.

The English Football Association said the “disgusting behaviour” was not welcome from fans.

“We will do all we can to support the players affected while urging the toughest punishments possible for anyone responsible,” the FA said in a statement.

London Police said officers were aware of the offensive and racist comments, and would take action.

“It will not be tolerated and it will be investigated,” the force said on Twitter.

The issue of online abuse of players led to British football authorities briefly boycotting social media platforms to highlight the issue, a stand joined by other sporting bodies. Tech firms have been repeatedly accused of failing to do enough to deal with the problem.

In May, the British government announced plans for a new law that could see social media companies fined up to 10 percent of turnover or 18 million pounds ($25 million) if they failed to stamp out online abuses such as racist hate crimes.


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