Police have launched a nationwide investigation to identify hate crime perpetrators following the torrent of abuse directed at England players following Euro 2020.
Three of England’s players – Marcus Rashford, Bukayo Saka and Jadon Sancho – were all subjected to racist attacks online after missing penalties during the tournament final at Wembley on Sunday evening.
The UK Football Policing Unit (UKFPU) has since assigned a dedicated team to work through a “large number” of reports made by local forces, charities and football clubs relating to these incidents.
Investigators are also collaborating with social media companies including Facebook, Instagram and Twitter to pinpoint the culprits.
Four arrests have been made by local police forces so far as a result of the investigation.
Rashford’s mural in Withington was also defaced following the final – but was quickly repaired and has since become the heartwarming home of hundreds of supportive messages.
In the House of Commons this week, Prime Minister Boris Johnson pledged tougher penalties for those found guilty of racist abuse – claiming Football Banning Orders would be amended to keep perpetrators out of stadiums for at least a decade.
The PM also said that tech firms would be fined for failing to stop “vile behaviour”.
Chief Constable Mark Roberts, National Police Chiefs’ Council Football Policing Lead, stated: “The racial abuse aimed at our own players following Sunday night’s game is utterly vile and has quite rightly shocked and appalled people across the country.
“Our England team have been true role models during the tournament, conducting themselves with professionalism and dignity. I’m disgusted there are individuals out there who think it’s acceptable to direct such abhorrent abuse at them, or at anybody else.
“The UKFPU investigation is well underway and work continues to identify those responsible. We are working very closely with social media platforms, who are providing data we need to progress enquiries.
Roberts also issued a warning: “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.”
Police saw a “significant increase” of criminal incidents throughout Euro 2020 compared to previous tournaments.
Up to July 13, 897 football-related incidents and 264 arrests had been recorded across the country in the 24-hour period surrounding the final.
At the time of writing, the total number of football-related incidents during the tournament currently stands at 2,344, with 630 arrests.
Featured image: Alex James