Prince William 'sickened' by racist abuse of three England players

LONDON, ENGLAND - JULY 11: (BILD ZEITUNG OUT) . ,Catherine,Duchess of Cambridge and Prinz William,Duke of Cambridge prior to the UEFA Euro 2020 Championship Final between Italy and England at Wembley Stadium on July 11, 2021 in London, United Kingdom. (Photo by Matteo Ciambelli/DeFodi Images via Getty Images)
William and Kate at the final on Sunday evening. (Matteo Ciambelli/DeFodi Images via Getty Images)

Prince William has sent a personal message condemning the racist abuse of Bukayo Saka, Jadon Sancho and Marcus Rashford after the Euro 2020 final.

William, who is president of the FA, made a statement via Twitter on Monday morning, joining a host of other government and political voices in denouncing the abuse.

In a tweet signed "W", he said: "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."

His father Prince Charles also criticised the abuse in a message which praised the work their performance.

Clarence House shared a comment from his 2020 Windrush Day speech, in which he said: "Recognizing the rich diversity of cultures which make this country so special – and in many ways unique – lies at the heart of what we can be as a nation."

It added: "Well done England on your fantastic Euro 2020 performance! You made us proud."

The three players took part in a penalty shootout as England took on Italy in the final on Sunday evening, after the 90 minutes and extra time failed to leave a clear winner.

But their attempts were saved by Italy's goalkeeper, and England lost the shootout 3-2.

It led to a flood of abuse across social media, particularly on Instagram.

Watch: Prince William wishes England's football squad good luck for Euro 2020 final

Prince William, 39, attended the match with his wife Kate and his son George. He also went to speak to the team after the match, with manager Gareth Southgate saying the duke was "fulsome in his praise" and that he thanked the players.

Facebook – which owns Instagram – has said it is working to remove harmful material as quickly as possible.

A Facebook company spokesperson said: "No one should have to experience racist abuse anywhere, and we don’t want it on Instagram.

"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.

"In addition to our work to remove this content, we encourage all players to turn on Hidden Words, a tool which means no one has to see abuse in their comments or DMs.

"No one thing will fix this challenge overnight, but we’re committed to keeping our community safe from abuse."

Manager Southgate called the abuse "unforgivable"at a press conference on Monday, saying: "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."

Britain's Catherine (L), Duchess of Cambridge, Prince George of Cambridge (C), and Britain's Prince William (R), Duke of Cambridge, are seen during the UEFA EURO 2020 final football match between Italy and England at the Wembley Stadium in London on July 11, 2021. (Photo by Frank Augstein / POOL / AFP) (Photo by FRANK AUGSTEIN/POOL/AFP via Getty Images)
William and Kate took their son George to the final too, despite the late kick off time. (Frank Augstein/AFP)

Read more: Prince William wanted George to wear England shirt to Wembley – but Kate was 'not so keen'

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."

A spokesperson for The Football Association 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 Metropolitan Police confirmed it investigating "offensive and racist" social media posts.

Watch: Racist abuse of England players condemned by prime minister and FA