UK police arrested 11 people for racist abuse after Euro 2020

MANCHESTER, ENGLAND - JULY 14: A general view of the mural at Trafford Park is seen on July 14, 2021 in Manchester, England. A Giant mural in support of the three England footballers Marcus Rashford, Jadon Sancho and Bukayo Saka has been unveiled in Manchester. The England stars were targeted with racist abuse online after they missed penalties in the Euro 2020 final leading to defeat by Italy. (Photo by Charlotte Tattersall/Getty Images)

Almost a month after the recently concluded Euro 2020 football matches, the UK police have arrested 11 people for online racial abuse that targeted England players following their defeat in the finals of the tournament. The UK Football Policing Unit (UKFPU) launched a hate crime investigation after racist comments were directed at some of the Three Lions’ black players following the game on July 11.

From the 600 reports of racist comments received by the UKFPU, 207 were judged to be criminal and 123 of those were posted by people overseas, while 34 came from the UK. Chief Constable Mark Roberts, National Police Chiefs’ Council Football Policing lead, said the investigation was proceeding “at pace” and said a “vast amount of work” went into identifying the 11 people arrested so far.

Ten men and one woman from across the UK have been arrested on suspicion of a number of offences, including malicious communications and breaching section 127 of the Communications Act 2003. Those arrested so far range in age from 18 to 63. The UKFPU is still awaiting data from social media companies on some 50 account holders. 

“There are people out there who believe they can hide behind a social media profile and get away with posting such abhorrent comments,” Roberts said. “They need to think again – we have investigators proactively seeking out abusive comments in connection to the match and, if they meet a criminal threshold, those posting them will be arrested.”

Marcus Rashford, Jadon Sancho and Bukayo Saka were the players targeted by the abusers after missing penalties in England’s defeat against Italy in Euro 2020 final at Wembley. The English Football Association (FA), the team’s manager Gareth Southgate and British Prime Minister Boris Johnson publicly condemn the abuse. A widespread support for the players was also given by the fans.

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.” They also urged social media companies to take stronger action to “eradicate” online abuse. Prince William, the president of the English Football Association, said he was “sickened” by the racism aimed at the England players.

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