Police have arrested Eleven people for online racist abuse of three Black England football players after following the team’s loss to Italy in the Euro 2020 final in July.
Marcus Rashford, Jadon Sancho and Bukayo Saka were targeted on social media after the national team’s penalty shoot-out defeat to Italy on July 11 with many coming to their defence to condemn the hateful comments while showering them with love and admiration.
A hate crime investigation conducted by the U.K. Football Policing Unit (UKFPU) revealed that there were over 600 reports of racist comments sent to the players. Around 200 of the posts were noted by the police as being “criminal in nature.” “There are people who believe they can hide behind a social media profile,” said Chief Constable Mark Roberts. “They need to think again.”
England footballers have been taking the knee before kick offs in protest against racism before the online racist attacks. The English Football League said it would back up players who participate in the protest, saying in a statement that the act helps “shine a light” on the fight against racism.
Police judged 207 of the posts identified to be “criminal in nature”. They have identified 34 accounts belonging to individuals in the UK; 11 of those accounts holders have now been arrested.
UKFPU said it was awaiting data from social media companies on the remaining 50 account holders.
It also identified 123 accounts belonging to individuals outside the UK.
Details of those individuals will be handed to relevant authorities to act, UKFPU said.