Euros 2020: Four arrests made over online abuse at England players

Four people have been arrested in connection with online abuse directed at England players.

An police probe was launched after a tirade of online abuse was targeted at Marcus Rashford, Jadon Sancho and Bukayo Saka following England’s defeat to Italy in the Euro 2020 game on Sunday.

On Wednesday Greater Manchester Police confirmed a 37-year-old man from Ashton-upon-Mersey had been arrested after social media posts were directed towards England players following Sunday’s match.

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An update on the investigation was released on Thursday by the UK Football Policing Unit (UKFPU).

It read: “Following England’s defeat against Italy on Sunday a torrent of racist comments aimed at some of the team’s black players appeared on platforms including Facebook, Instagram and Twitter.

“A hate crime investigation is under way by the UKFPU, with a dedicated team of investigators working their way through a large number of reports from across the country.

“So far, dozens of data applications have been submitted to social media companies and four people have been arrested by local police forces.”

The UKFPU said it receives reports from various channels including from local forces, charities, football clubs and other partner organisations.

England manager Gareth Southgate stands dejected alongside Bukayo Saka and Jack Grealish following the UEFA Euro 2020 Final at Wembley Stadium, London picture: Mike Egerton
England manager Gareth Southgate stands dejected alongside Bukayo Saka and Jack Grealish following the UEFA Euro 2020 Final at Wembley Stadium, London picture: Mike Egerton

When an offender’s details are identified, these are passed on to the relevant local force to investigate further and take appropriate action in conjunction with the Crown Prosecution Service.

Chief Constable Mark Roberts, the National Police Chiefs’ Council football policing lead, said: “The racial abuse aimed at our own players following Sunday night’s game is utterly vile and has quite rightly shocked and appalled people across the country.

“Our England team have been true role models during the tournament, conducting themselves with professionalism and dignity. I’m disgusted there are individuals out there who think it’s acceptable to direct such abhorrent abuse at them, or at anybody else.

“The UKFPU investigation is well under way and work continues to identify those responsible. We are working very closely with social media platforms, who are providing data we need to progress enquiries.

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

News of the recent arrests comes as Instagram admitted to a mistake in its technology which meant racist comments and emojis were not removed.

Instagram boss Adam Mosseri said content had "mistakenly" been identified as within guidelines instead of referred to human moderators, but it has now been fixed.

“We have technology to try and prioritise reports and we were mistakenly marking some of these as benign comments, which they are absolutely not,” he told BBC News.

“The issue has since been addressed.

"Reports on these types of comments should [now] be reviewed properly.”

Boris Johnson said on Wednesday that the Government was extending the scope of football banning orders to include online abuse.

Banning orders exclude people from attending matches for between a three and 10-year period.

The Premier League is understood to welcome the move, believing that the orders have been under-utilised in the past.

The UKFPU also said that as of Tuesday, 897 football-related incidents and 264 arrests had been recorded across the country in the 24-hour period surrounding the final.

That brought the total number of football-related incidents during the tournament to 2,344, and the arrests total to 630.

Additional reporting by PA

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