Arrests for racist abuse of Black English players

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At least four people were arrested for racist online abuse against three players of the English national team after missing penalties in the final of the Euro 2020, the British police said on Thursday via Reuters.

The UK Football Policing Unit has launched an investigation into hate crimes and said it is dealing with “a significant number” of abuse reports. Police added that “dozens of data requests have been submitted to technology companies” via Reuters. BBC police reported that a fifth person was arrested later on Thursday.

The racial abuse was directed against Marcus Rashford, Jadon Sancho and Bukayo Saka, all black after missing penalties in a penalty shootout against Italy at London’s Wembley Stadium. Italy won the European Championship in 2020 with a 3-2 victory.

Police work with social media platforms

A general view of the mural in Trafford Park in Manchester, England, painted in support of Marcus Rashford, Jadon Sancho and Bukayo Saka. (Charlotte Tattersall / Getty Images)

It came out on the social media sites Facebook, Instagram, and Twitter. A Rashford mural was also defaced in the hours after the loss, although fans showed up the next day to post inspirational messages and paper hearts. Fans also painted a mural of the three with crowns in Trafford Park in Manchester.

“We work very closely with social media platforms that provide the data we need to continue the investigation,” said Chief Constable Mark Roberts, the officer in charge of the UK police response to football issues, on Reuters.

“If we find that you are behind this crime, we will track you down and you will face the grave consequences of your shameful actions.”

Police said there were 897 incidents and 264 arrests related to the game via Reuters in the 24 hours following the match. It’s a big leap to the 2016 and 2018 tournaments. Before the final, fans stormed the gates, overwhelmed security and entered Wembley prematurely.

Instagram apologizes for mistakes

Racial abuse in football has been an issue for years and social media offerings have vowed in various places to do better. All three major platforms said they pledged to clean up the abuse after the Euro 2020 final, but users found that they reported insults and emojis like the monkey that weren’t removed.

Instagram CEO Adam Mosseri said in a tweet that the technology is designed to prioritize reports of abuse is “some of them falsely labeled as harmless comments, which they absolutely are not”. He said the problems were addressed.

Fans who are guilty of racist insults face a ban on football

People across the UK in the days since then have taken a strong stance against those making racist statements on platforms. Prime Minister Boris Johnson said Wednesday the government plans to ban anyone found guilty of abusing football games online.

“What we are doing is taking practical steps to ensure that the football ban regime is changed so that if you are guilty of the racist abuse in online football, if you are guilty of the racist abuse in online football, you will not go to the game,” Johnson said during his weekly questions to the Prime Minister Session, via CBC Sports. “No ifs, no buts, no exceptions, no excuses.”

He has come under fire and has been accused of hypocrisy, like others, for failing to judge fans for whistling at players who went on their knees before the games. The English players did this to raise awareness of racism.

FA condemns racist abuse

In the hours after the game, and as the racial abuse after penalties was peaking, the FA – the governing body of English football – issued a statement condemning it.

“We couldn’t be more clear that anyone behind such disgusting behavior is not welcome to follow the team,” the organization said in a statement.

“We will do everything we can to support the players affected and at the same time demand the toughest penalties for all those responsible.”

It also called on social media platforms to do more to end this discrimination that is rampant in international football.

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