Prince William 'sickened' by racist abuse aimed at England players

12 July 2021, 10:22 | Updated: 13 July 2021, 06:14

  • FA President Prince William leads condemnation of vile racist abuse levelled at England players
  • Manager Gareth Southgate describes online abuse of players as 'unforgivable'
  • Met police say they are investigating racist comments targeting players online
  • Marcus Rashford, Jadon Sancho and Bukayo Saka targeted after missing penalties
  • England lost to Italy on Sunday night in Euro 2020 final at Wembley
Prince William has condemned vile racist abuse levelled at Marcus Rashford, Jadon Sancho and Bukayo Saka
Prince William has condemned vile racist abuse levelled at Marcus Rashford, Jadon Sancho and Bukayo Saka. Picture: PA

By Asher McShane

The Duke of Cambridge has said he is 'sickened' by racist abuse levelled at some members of the England squad after their defeat to Italy on penalties in the Euro 2020 final.

FA President Prince William posted on Twitter: "I am sickened by the racist abuse aimed at England players after last night’s match. It is totally unacceptable that players have to endure this abhorrent behaviour.

"It must stop now and all those involved should be held accountable."

Marcus Rashford, Jadon Sancho and Bukayo Saka all failed to score from the spot on Sunday night as England went down on penalties.

Their social media pages were quickly flooded with racist comments, leading the Prime Minister and the FA to condemn the "disgusting behaviour" as well.

England manager Gareth Southgate described the abuse directed at the players as "unforgivable".

He said: "It's just not what we stand for.

"We have been a beacon of light in bringing people together in people being able to relate to the national team, and the national team stands for everybody and so that togetherness has to continue.

"We have shown the power our country has when it does come together and has that energy and positivity together.

"It's my decision who takes the penalties, it's not a case of players not volunteering or more experienced players backing out."

"I know in time we will have an appreciation of that and I know the messages we are getting underline that," he said.

"But when you are in sport and you get to a final you know those opportunities are rare and to be so close and to know what that has taken and know you have to pick up and go again, that is very hard the day after.

"We will go again of course."

Gary Lineker posted online: Booing and racially abusing the fine young men that play for our country and have given us so much pleasure and joy over the last month is not being an England fan.

"That goes for the pathetic fighting at the ground too. It’s a minority but it’s a loud one and it’s embarrassing."

Boris Johnson also condemned the "appalling" racist abuse of England players on social media.

Mr Johnson said the team deserve to be hailed as "heroes" following the Three Lions' loss to Italy and not subjected to hatred online, adding that those who sent abuse should be "ashamed of themselves".

The Football Association also issued a statement saying it is "appalled", while the Metropolitan Police vowed to investigate.

Mr Johnson tweeted: "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."

READ MORE: Marcus Rashford mural defaced after England loss

Home Secretary Priti Patel said she is "disgusted" by the "vile" racist abuse players were subjected to, adding in a tweet: "It has no place in our country and I back the police to hold those responsible accountable."

Culture Secretary Oliver Dowden tweeted that he "shared the anger" of the "appalling racist abuse" towards the "heroic" players.

"Social media companies need to up their game in addressing it and, if they fail to, our new Online Safety Bill will hold them to account with fines of up to 10 per cent of global revenue," he added.

And an FA spokesman said: "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.

"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 Government to act quickly and bring in 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."

The Met also condemned the "unacceptable" abuse, adding that they will be investigating the "offensive and racist" social media posts.

The force said in a statement on Twitter: "We are aware of a number of offensive and racist social media comments being directed towards footballers following the #Euro2020 final.

"This abuse is totally unacceptable, it will not be tolerated and it will be investigated."

Meanwhile, the Metropolitan Police Federation, which represents thousands of London's police, criticised people who hurt officers after the match.

In response to a tweet from the Met police force, which said 19 officers were injured when they "confronted volatile crowds", the Federation said: "These people should be ashamed of themselves. They are not fans. They are thugs. We wish our injured colleagues well."

Football players are regularly subjected to abuse after games, with Rashford and Raheem Sterling among those speaking out against racist hatred.

Before the tournament, England manager Gareth Southgate said his "paternal instincts kick in" and told those who sent such messages: "You're on the losing side."

The official Twitter account for the England men's and women's national teams offered support to the victimised players.

It said in a statement: "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.

"We stand with our players."

London Mayor Sadiq Khan called on social media companies to do more to hold to account those responsible for sending online abuse.

He wrote on Twitter: "There is absolutely no place for racism in football or anywhere else.

"Those responsible for the disgusting online abuse we have seen must be held accountable - and social media companies need to act immediately to remove and prevent this hate."