Eleven arrests made over racist abuse of England players after Euro 2020 final

Marcus Rashford, Jadon Sancho and Bukayo Saka faced a tirade of abuse after they missed penalties in Euro 2020 final last month. Credit: PA

Police investigating the racial abuse of England players online following the Euro 2020 final against Italy have made 11 arrests so far.

Marcus Rashford, Jadon Sancho and Bukayo Saka faced a tirade of abuse after they missed penalties in the shoot-out defeat at Wembley last month.

Those arrested so far range in age from 18 to 63, and include three people from London, two from Christchurch, Dorset, one from Runcorn, Cheshire, one from Sale, Greater Manchester, one from Folkestone, Kent, one from Reading, one from Shrewsbury and one from Worcester.

They have all either been released under investigation pending further enquiries or bailed to return at a later date.

The UK Football Policing Unit said its investigation team has received more than 600 reports from individuals, charities, clubs and other organisations across the country, and 207 were criminal in nature, with 34 accounts identified as being in the UK.

The unit has made data requests to social media companies to progress further investigations, and where there have been responses, the information has been passed on to local police forces, who have so far arrested 11 people on suspicion of a number of offences, including malicious communications and breaching section 127 of the Communications Act 2003.

Of the 207 criminal social media posts, 123 accounts belong to individuals outside the United Kingdom and the details of those people and cases are being passed on to the relevant countries to act on them.

The unit is waiting for data from social media companies on the remaining 50 account holders.

Last month, 19-year-old England player Bukayo Saka, who missed the decisive penalty kick in England's Euro 2020 final against Italy, said social media platforms were "not doing enough" to stop hurtful and racist messages.

He had urged the platforms to do more to protect their users, saying: "I don't want any child or adult to have to receive the hateful and hurtful messages that me, Marcus and Jadon have received this week".

England manager Gareth Southgate consoled Saka after the Euro 2020 Final penalty shoot out. Credit: Mike Egerton/PA

Chief Constable Mark Roberts, National Police Chiefs’ Council football policing lead, said: “There are people out there who believe they can hide behind a social media profile and get away with posting such abhorrent comments.

“They need to think again – we have investigators proactively seeking out abusive comments in connection to the match and, if they meet a criminal threshold, those posting them will be arrested.

“Our investigation is continuing at pace and we are grateful for those who have taken time to report racist posts to us.

Roberts said that investigating social media abuse is complex, and the amount of work gone into identifying these 11 individuals was vast. He also thanked social networking sites Facebook, Instagram and Twitter for their cooperation.

“In the meantime, we are seeking engagement with the players themselves to offer our support, and seek their input for our investigation and subsequent prosecutions in conjunction with the CPS”.