'I am sickened': Prince William, Boris Johnson condemn racist abuse hurled at England football players

British police say they are investigating racist social media posts aimed at players of the England football team.

England's Marcus Rashford (2nd right) is consoled by Kalvin Phillips after missing in the penalty shoot-out during the UEFA Euro 2020 Final.

England's Marcus Rashford (2nd right) is consoled by Kalvin Phillips after missing in the penalty shoot-out during the UEFA Euro 2020 Final. Source: AAP

Britain's Prince William and Prime Minister Boris Johnson joined the chorus of condemnation of the online racial abuse of England football players after the team's defeat in the Euro 2020 final.

"I am sickened by the racist abuse aimed at England players after last night’s match," Prince William, Queen Elizabeth's grandson who is president of the English Football Association, 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."

Police said they would also investigate the comments made towards Black 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."

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 politicization of sport and expression of sympathy with far-left politics.

Some ministers themselves have been accused of hypocrisy for refusing to criticise those who booed the team, but now join condemnation of the racist abuse.

"I am disgusted that England players who have given so much for our country this summer have been subject to vile racist abuse on social media," said Home Secretary (interior minister) Priti Patel, who last month said she did not support players taking the knee because it was "gesture politics".

While the social media feeds of the players also showed huge levels of support and gratitude from fans for the tournament, the abuse overshadowed the positive messages.


"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 fans who exhibited such "disgusting behaviour" were not welcome.

"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 per cent of turnover or 18 million pounds (A$33 million) if they failed to stamp out online abuses such as racist hate crimes.

Published 12 July 2021 at 7:17pm, updated 12 July 2021 at 8:56pm
Source: Reuters - SBS