Vandalism of Marcus Rashford mural 'not believed to be of a racial nature', say police

Mackenzie Robertson and his mother Sally Coles-Robertson put up a message on the mural of Manchester United striker and England player Marcus Rashford on the wall of the Coffee House Cafe on Copson Street, Withington. The mural appeared vandalised on Monday after the England football team lost the UEFA Euro 2021 final. Picture date: Tuesday July 13, 2021. Photo credit should read: Danny Lawson/PA Wire
There has been an outpouring of support for Marcus Rashford after the mural of him in Withington was defaced. (PA) (PA)

The vandalism of the mural of Marcus Rashford is not believed to be "of a racial nature", Manchester police have said.

Greater Manchester Police are investigating the vandalism of the mural in Withington that happened after England's defeat in the Euro 2020 final on Sunday.

Hundreds of messages of support have been left at the site of the mural after it was defaced following the match, with Rashford saying he had been left on the verge of tears by the outpouring of solidarity.

The footballer and fellow England players Jadon Sancho and Bukayo Saka were also subjected to racist abuse online after all three failed to score a penalty during the final stage of the Italy vs England game.

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Street artist Akse has now repaired the damage to his mural while police launched an investigation into the vandalism.

In a statement, Greater Manchester Police said officers had been called in the early hours of Monday to reports of racially-aggravated damage to the mural.

The force said: "While the content of the vandalism is not believed to be of a racial nature, officers are keeping an open mind as to the motive behind defacing the artwork."

It said investigators were conducting several lines of enquiry including CCTV and forensic evidence from the spray paint used, with results expected in the coming weeks.

Police are continuing to appeal to members of the public for any information.

Some of the vandalism saw the word “f***” was scrawled over the huge artwork and the words “s***” and “b*****d” were also written beside the word “Sancho”.

Superintendent Richard Timson, district commander for GMP's City of Manchester division, said: "On Monday morning when we saw the damage done to the mural in Withington we were all left appalled, and we stand with the rest of the community whose solidarity against this vile abuse ever since has really shown the best of our city.

File photo dated 07-03-2021 of Manchester United's Marcus Rashford. Issue date: Wednesday July 14, 2021.
Rashford said he had been left on the verge of tears after the outpouring of support and solidarity he had received. (PA) (PA)

"The person responsible for this knows who they are and we believe there will be others who also suspect the identity of this offender, and I therefore urge anyone with such information to get in touch to help progress our enquiries at speed."

The racist abuse received by Rashford, Sancho and Saka has been condemned by the Football Association, Prince William and Prime Minister Boris Johnson, who has also apologised for his own racist comments within articles he has previously written.

Rashford thanked fans for their support on Monday night, tweeting: “The messages I have received today have been positively overwhelming and seeing the response in Withington had me on the verge of tears.

“The communities that always wrapped their arms around me continue to hold me up. I’m Marcus Rashford, 23 years old, black man from Withington and Wythenshawe, South Manchester.”

LONDON, ENGLAND - JULY 11: Bukayo Saka of England is consoled by Head Coach, Gareth Southgate after his penalty miss during the UEFA Euro 2020 Championship Final between Italy and England at Wembley Stadium on July 11, 2021 in London, England. (Photo by Laurence Griffiths/Getty Images)
Bukayo Saka of England is consoled by Gareth Southgate after his penalty miss. (Getty) (Laurence Griffiths via Getty Images)

Saka has challenged social media platforms to step up their efforts to tackle racism. In a post on his official Twitter account on Thursday, he wrote: “For those who have campaigned on my behalf and sent me heartfelt letters, wished me and my family well, I’m so thankful.

“This is what football should be about, passion, people of all races, genders, religions and backgrounds coming together with one shared joy of the rollercoaster of football.

“To the social media platforms Instagram, Twitter and Facebook, I don’t want any child or adult to have to receive the hateful and hurtful messages that me Marcus and Jadon have received this week.

“I knew instantly the kind of hate that I was about to receive and that is a sad reality that your powerful platforms are not doing enough to stop these messages.

“There is no place for racism or hate of any kind in football or in any area of society and to the majority of people coming together to call out the people sending these messages, by taking action and reporting these comments to the police and by driving out the hate by being kind to one another, we will win.

“Love always wins.”

Watch: Gary Neville criticises Boris Johnson after racist abuse of England players