People who racially abuse footballers online will be banned from matches, Boris Johnson announces

The football banning order regime will be changing to cover online racism, Boris Johnson has told MPs during Prime Minister's Questions.

His comments came after Labour leader Sir Keir Starmer asked the prime minister: "Does the prime minister think that it was wrong to criticise the England team’s decision to oppose racism by taking the knee as gesture politics?"

Speaking in the House of Common, Mr Johnson said the government is "taking practical steps to ensure that the football banning order regime is changed".

The PM said: "I utterly condemn and abhor the racist outpourings that we saw on Sunday night."

"So that if you are guilty of racist abuse online of footballers then you will not be going to the match. No ifs, no buts. No exemptions and no excuses," he added.

Previously, only those caught being racist in the grounds could be banned from matches.

Sir Keir Starmer also highlighted the "disgusting" racist abuse aimed at England players, adding: "Either the prime minister is with the England players in their stand against racism or he can defend his own record, those ministers and some of his MPs – but he can’t have it both ways.

"So can he tell the House, does he now regret failing to condemn those who booed England players for standing up to racism – yes or no?"

Mr Johnson replied: "We made it absolutely clear that no-one should boo the England team."

Leyton Orient Football Club recently issued a three-year banning order to a fan after racist abuse online.

Leyton Orient CEO says it is "exceptionally difficult" to identify people posting racist abuse when they are "hidden behind an alias"

Their CEO, Danny Macklin, told ITV News it was "exceptionally difficult" to identify people posting racist abuse when "more often than not they are hidden behind an alias without a picture".

He added: "We welcome the news that has come out today and hopefully we can eradicate as much as possible this hatred that does exist with a very small minority of people."

The PM's latest announcement comes after England footballers Marcus Rashford, Jadon Sancho and Bukayo Saka faced torrents of racist abuse on social media following England's Euro 2020 final loss on Sunday.

An image shared by Marcus Rashford as he described how he was 'overwhelmed' Credit: Marcus Rashford

Since then, a petition to serve racists with a lifetime ban from football games has gained more than one million signatures, making it one of the most signed online petitions ever.

It passed the milestone on Wednesday morning, days after being set up in response to racist social media posts directed at footballers Rashford, Sancho and Saka - the three players missed penalties in the 3-2 shootout against Italy.

Football fans Shaista Aziz, Amna Abdullatif and Huda Jawad set up the page.

Ms Jawad, one of the petition's organisers, said: "This is not our petition – this is the nation speaking and saying this is not okay and enough is enough."

"It’s not about just educating people and having a softly-softly approach – this is the point where we are very clear about our red lines," she added.

Meanwhile England player Tyrone Mings accused Home Secretary Priti Patel of having stoked the fires of racism when she previously dismissed the team’s action of taking the knee at the start of matches as "gesture politics".

The condemnation follows similar outrage across the political spectrum, from royalty, and the footballing world.

"You're not England fans and we don't want you," England captain Harry Kane said earlier this week.

"Three lads who were brilliant all summer had the courage to step up & take a pen when the stakes were high," Kane wrote on Monday.

"They deserve support & backing not the vile racist abuse they’ve had since last night."

Steve Baker said the controversy which erupted after the Euro 2020 final at Wembley should serve as a "wake-up call" to the Tory party over how it is seen in the rest of the country.

As reported by The Guardian on Tuesday, Mr Baker wrote a message to MPs on the Conservatives Against Racism, For Equality group - which boasts Jeremy Hunt and Robert Halfon as members.

He said: "Much as we can’t be associated with calls to defund the police, we urgently need to challenge our own attitude to people taking a knee. I fear we are in danger of misrepresenting our own heart for those who suffer injustice."