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Prince William condemns 'despicable' racist abuse directed at black footballers
31 January 2021, 18:41 | Updated: 31 January 2021, 19:04
Racist abuse in football "is despicable and it must stop now", the Duke of Cambridge has said.
Prince William, who is president of the Football Association (FA), called on everyone in the game to create an environment where such behaviour is not accepted.
It comes after a number of black footballers were subjected to racial abuse online this week, including Chelsea defender Reece James, West Brom’s Romaine Sawyers and Manchester United trio Axel Tuanzebe, Marcus Rashford and Anthony Martial.
He said those who "choose to spread hate and division" should be held accountable for any abuse dished out, whether it is on the pitch, in the stands or on social media.
The duke praised players, clubs, supporters and organisations who have pushed to drive such behaviour out the game.
"Racist abuse - whether on the pitch, in the stands, or on social media - is despicable and it must stop now," he said in a string of tweets.
"We all have a responsibility to create an environment where such abuse is not tolerated, and those who choose to spread hate and division are held accountable for their actions.
"That responsibility extends to the platforms where so much of this activity now takes place.
"I commend all those players, supporters, clubs and organisations who continue to call out and condemn this abuse in the strongest terms."
On Sunday, the FA promised to work with ministers and social media companies in eradicating racism from the sport.
Racist abuse - whether on the pitch, in the stands, or on social media - is despicable and it must stop now. (1/3)— The Duke and Duchess of Cambridge (@KensingtonRoyal) January 31, 2021
A statement posted on the association's Twitter account said: “We are united with all of football in our abhorrence of any racist abuse. This is not acceptable in any part of society.
“We will continue to work with the rest of the game, the government and social media platforms to remove this – and all elements of – discrimination from our sport.”
Meanwhile, Greater Manchester Police (GMP) has launched an investigation after receiving reports of social media abuse directed towards United players in the past week.
"A number of these comments have been reported to us and we are liaising with those involved to provide support and we will be investigating these crimes thoroughly," a GMP statement said.
So far, a 49-year-old man has been arrested on suspicion of racially abusing Sawyers.