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The three Black England players subjected to online racist abuse in the wake of the Euro 2020 final have been deluged with positive messages from politicians, players, clubs, royals and fans.
The social media pages of Marcus Rashford, Jadon Sancho and Bukayo Saka were targeted after they missed penalties in England’s penalty shootout defeat to Italy at Wembley on Sunday.
The racist abuse has been condemned by the Football Association, Prince William and the prime minister.
The Duke of Cambridge, who is president of the FA and watched the final at Wembley, wrote 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.”
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. W
— The Duke and Duchess of Cambridge (@KensingtonRoyal) July 12, 2021
England manager Gareth Southgate described the abuse directed at the players as “unforgivable”.
“It’s just not what we stand for,” he said during a press conference on Monday.
“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.”
He said it was his decision – not the players’ – regarding who would take a penalty during the shootout.
Former England defender Rio Ferdinand tweeted: “Hiding behind the safety blanket that is social media platforms these disgusting people can continually abuse our England players knowing that they are safe to be able to stay anonymous.”
The England team said from their Twitter account: “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.”
The FA 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.”
Former England striker Alan Shearer told BBC Breakfast: “What on Earth are people thinking about to go online and abuse these players?
“What is wrong with these people? It is so ridiculous. Absolutely disgusting.
“An individual has to volunteer for a penalty and I have full admiration for the guys who were brave enough to stand up and take a penalty for England. It’s a horrible situation to be in.”
The chief executive of anti-discrimination group Kick It Out, Tony Burnett, said: “The racist abuse aimed at some of the England players on social media last night is appalling and completely unacceptable.”
Arsenal issued a statement expressing their pride at how Saka had represented the club and his country.
It read: “Bukayo has been with us since he was seven and the whole club couldn’t have been prouder to see him represent England throughout the tournament.
“However, this feeling of pride quickly turned to sorrow at the racist comments our young player was subjected to on his social media platforms after the final whistle.
“Once again, we are sad to have to say we condemn the racism of a number black players. This cannot continue and the social media platforms and authorities must act to ensure this disgusting abuse to which our players are subjected on a daily basis stops now.”
Manchester United compiled messages of support for their striker Rashford, and a statement introducing the posts said: “It takes tremendous guts to take a penalty under such pressure, when the entire nation is anxiously watching on, so we are proud that Marcus was brave enough to step up.”
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.
— Boris Johnson (@BorisJohnson) July 12, 2021
Boris Johnson said: “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.”
However the PM's intervention was not welcomed by some, with football pundit and former England player Gary Neville criticising him for not previously condemning those who had booed players for taking a knee.
Watch: Gary Neville criticises Boris Johnson after racist abuse of England players
There were thousands of messages of support from football fans for the three players, with hundreds commenting with positive messages on their Instagram and Twitter pages.
The Metropolitan Police said it will be investigating “offensive and racist” social media posts directed towards members of the England football team.
Facebook – which owns Instagram – said it tries to remove harmful content as quickly as possible and encouraged people to use the tools it offers to block abuse.
“No one should have to experience racist abuse anywhere, and we don’t want it on Instagram,” a Facebook spokesperson said.
“We quickly removed comments and accounts directing abuse at England’s footballers last night and we’ll continue to take action against those that break our rules.”
Twitter said it had proactively removed more than 1,000 posts over the past 24 hours which violated its policy and also taken swift action to permanently suspend a number of accounts.
Watch: Racist abuse of England players condemned by Boris Johnson