British police have arrested 11 people across the UK in connection with episodes of racist abuse targeting England football players on social media following the team’s Euro 2020 final loss to Italy.
The UK Football Policing Unit (UKFPU) launched a hate crime investigation after racist comments were directed at some of England’s Black players following the game on July 11.
The unit said it received more than 600 reports from individuals, charities, clubs and other organizations. According to the UKFPU, 207 of these were found to be criminal in their nature.
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A large inflatable version of the trophy is seen on the pitch before the UEFA Euro 2020 Championship Final between Italy and England at Wembley Stadium on July 11, 2021.
Of the 207 posts found to be criminal, 123 accounts belonged to individuals outside of the UK and British police say the details of these are being processed and passed on to the relevant countries to act on.
So far 34 accounts were found to have been in the UK, and 11 of these account holders have now been arrested.
The barrage of racist social media abuse was aimed at England players Marcus Rashford, Jadon Sancho and Bukayo Saka after they missed penalties in the shootout at the end of the Euro 2020 final last month.
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A mural in support of Marcus Rashford, Jadon Sancho and Bukayo Saka was unveiled in Manchester in July after the Euro 2020 final.
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People look at the messages of support and the newly repaired mural of Rashford, which is displayed on the wall of a cafe on Copson Street, Withington, after it was defaced by vandals.
“There are people out there who believe they can hide behind a social media profile and get away with posting such abhorrent comments,” National Police Chiefs’ Council Football Policing lead, Chief Constable Mark Roberts. “They need to think again.”
Roberts said that a “vast amount of work” had been carried out to identify the 11 people arrested.
“The complexities of investigating social media abuse cannot be underestimated,” added Roberts.
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Players of England look on in the penalty shootout during the UEFA Euro 2020 Championship Final between Italy and England at Wembley Stadium on July 11, 2021.
The FA said in a statement it hoped that “these arrests act as a clear deterrent for perpetrators of online abuse who believe there will be no real-world consequences for their actions.”
The FA statement also urged social media companies to take stronger action to “eradicate” online abuse and stop those responsible from using their platforms, calling on the government to speed up the passing of the new Online Harms legislation.