Just a few days after three England soccer players were subjected to racist abuse online — including monkey emojis, slurs and taunts — British police have arrested at least four people for “hate crimes” in connection with the online messages.
On Sunday, England lost in penalty kicks to Italy in the Euro 2020 final. England was hoping for its first major international championship since the 1966 World Cup, but once again fell short.
After extra time, Italy and England were tied 1-1, but Marcus Rashford, Jadon Sancho, and Bukaya Saka — who are black — missed their penalty kicks for England.
According to Reuters, the three black players were “targeted with racist abuse on social media sites Facebook, Instagram and Twitter.”
The online abuse was quickly condemned by the English soccer team and England’s soccer governing body, the FA.
“The FA strongly condemns all forms of discrimination and is appalled by the online racism that has been aimed at some of our England players on social media,” the FA statement said. “We could not be clearer that anyone behind such disgusting behaviour is not welcome in following the team. We will do all we can to support the players affected while urging the toughest punishments possible for anyone responsible.”
“We will continue to do everything we can to stamp discrimination out of the game, but we implore governemnt to act quickly and bring the appropriate legislation so this abuse has real life consequences. Social media companies need to step up and take accountability and action to ban abusers from their platforms, gather evidence that can lead to prosecution and support making their platforms free from this type of abhorrent abuse.”
Prime Minister Boris Johnson also weighed in, condemning those responsible for the racist posts.
“This England team deserve to be lauded as heroes, not racially abused on social media,” Prime Minister Boris Johnson said on Twitter. “Those responsible for this appalling abuse should be ashamed of themselves.”
This England team deserve to be lauded as heroes, not racially abused on social media.
Those responsible for this appalling abuse should be ashamed of themselves.
— Boris Johnson (@BorisJohnson) July 12, 2021
The U.K. Football Policing Unit, which “strives to reduce violence, antisocial behaviour and disorder at football events involving UK football teams,” is leading a hate crime investigation.
“We are working very closely with social media platforms, who are providing data we need to progress enquiries,” said Chief Constable Mark Roberts, the officer responsible for leading Britain’s policing response on soccer issues.
“If we identify that you are behind this crime, we will track you down and you will face the serious consequences of your shameful actions.”
According to CBS News, “897 football-related incidents were recorded and 264 arrests were made in the 24-hour period surrounding the game.” Four of those arrests were for “hate crimes.”
Hate speech laws in the United Kingdom make it an offense for a person to use “threatening, abusive or insulting words or behaviour that causes, or is likely to cause, another person harassment, alarm or distress.”
“Section 127 of the Communications Act 2003 makes it illegal to send a message via a public electronic communications network that is considered grossly offensive, or of an indecent, obscene or menacing character,” per The Week.
Joe Morgan is the Sports Reporter for The Daily Wire. Most recently, Morgan covered the Clippers, Lakers, and the NBA for Sporting News. Send your sports questions to [email protected].