London — Three Black players on England's national soccer team have been subjected to racist abuse online afterin the European Championship finals Sunday night. The players — Marcus Rashford, Jadon Sancho and Bukayo Saka — helped carry the England team though the tournament, but missed penalty shots in the final match against Italy.
The abuse has been condemned by leaders across the country, including Britain's Prime Minister Boris Johnson, the Duke and Duchess of Cambridge, London's Mayor Sadiq Khan, and the Football Association, who called on social media companies to "take accountability and action to ban abusers."
"The FA strongly condemns all forms of discrimination and is appalled by the online racism that has been aimed at some of our England players on social media," the group said in a statement. "We could not be clearer that anyone behind such disgusting behavior is not welcome in following the team. We will do all that we can to support the players affected while urging the toughest punishments possible for anyone responsible."
The manager of the England team, Gareth Southgate, called the abuse "unforgivable," and London's Metropolitan Police said they would investigate.
"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 police said in a statement on Twitter.
Throughout the European Football Championship tournament, players from the England team have taken the knee at the start of matches to protest racial inequality. Sometimes spectators booed the gesture. Earlier this year, British Prime Minister Boris Johnson was criticized for not immediately condemning the booing.
Soccer players in England started taking the knee ahead of matches in March last year after the killing of George Floyd in the United States and the growth of the Black Lives Matter movement.
Late on Sunday and early Monday, some supporters tried to drown out the online racist abuse by flooding the three players' Instagram accounts with positive comments, and reporting the abusive ones.
Twitter reportedly said it had deleted over 1000 tweets and suspended a number of accounts.
"The abhorrent racist abuse last night has absolutely no place on Twitter," a spokesperson said, according to media reports.
Facebook, which owns Instagram, said in a statement that, "it quickly removed comments and accounts directing abuse at England's footballers last night and we'll continue to take action against those that break our rules," according to reports.