The chairman of the Irish Football Association has called for those responsible for targeted racist abuse against English football players to be held accountable.
Former PSNI acting deputy chief constable Stephen Martin said he stands with the players who were subjected to racist abuse on social media following the Three Lions’ Euro 2020 loss to Italy on Sunday night.
The social media pages of Marcus Rashford, Jadon Sancho and Bukayo Saka were flooded with racist comments after England lost on penalties, leading the Football Association to release a statement condemning the “disgusting behaviour”.
The Metropolitan Police said they’d investigate the abuse, which was also condemned by Boris Johnson and Prince William, who attended the match with son George and wife Kate.
Mr Martin, who retired from policing after 34 years in 2020, said in a tweet the abuse was “outrageous and unacceptable” towards the three players.
“They are sporting role models who have also used their influence so positively for social good off the pitch,” he said. “I stand with them. The bullies must be stopped & be held accountable.”
A spokesperson for the FA said they condemned ”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.”
Prime Minister Boris Johnson said the 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,” he said.
The Metropolitan Police also condemned the “unacceptable” abuse, adding it will be investigating the “offensive and racist” social media posts.
The force said in a statement on Twitter: “We are aware of a number of offensive and racist social media comments being directed towards footballers following the #Euro2020 final.
“This abuse is totally unacceptable, it will not be tolerated and it will be investigated.”
The official Twitter account for the England men’s and women’s national teams offered support to the victimised players.
It said in a statement: “We’re disgusted that some of our squad – who have given everything for the shirt this summer – have been subjected to discriminatory abuse online after tonight’s game.
“We stand with our players.”
London Mayor Sadiq Khan called on social media companies to do more to hold to account those responsible for sending online abuse.
He wrote on Twitter: “There is absolutely no place for racism in football or anywhere else.
“Those responsible for the disgusting online abuse we have seen must be held accountable – and social media companies need to act immediately to remove and prevent this hate.”