Southgate, FA worried by racist abuse aimed at England players after defeat

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Gareth Southgate described the racist online abuse directed at some of England’s players after the Euro 2020 final defeat to Italy as “unforgivable”.

Bukayo Saka, Marcus Rashford, and Jadon Sancho were all targeted by abusive posts in the wake of their missed penalty kicks in the shootout.

Figures within the sport, from the Government and even the Duke of Cambridge, were united in their condemnation of the abuse, and Southgate said: “For some of them to be abused is unforgivable really.

“It’s just not what we stand for. We have been a beacon of light in bringing people together, in people being able to relate to the national team, and the national team stands for everybody and so that togetherness has to continue.

“We have shown the power our country has when it does come together and has that energy and positivity together.

“Bukayo, in particular, has been an absolute star in this tournament, (he has shown) incredible maturity and the way he has played has brought a smile to so many people’s faces.

“He’s become such a popular member of the group and I know he has got everybody’s support.”

Arsenal released a statement stating their pride in how Saka had represented his club and his country during the tournament.

The club said their pride had turned to sorrow when witnessing the abuse the 19-year-old suffered.

“We are sad to have to say we condemn the racism of a number of black players,” the statement said.

“This cannot continue and the social media platforms and authorities must act to ensure this disgusting abuse to which our players are subjected on a daily basis stops now.

“We have processes in place internally at Arsenal to ensure our players are supported both emotionally and practically on this issue but sadly there is only so much we can do.

The Duke of Cambridge, who is president of the Football Association (FA), said he was “sickened” by the abuse.

“It is totally unacceptable that players have to endure this abhorrent behavior,” he wrote on Twitter.

“It must stop now and all those involved should be held accountable.”

League Two club Leyton Orient said they had issued a three-year banning order to a season-ticket holder related to the abuse of England players.

“The supporter in question’s actions on Twitter were alerted to the club late last night, and action has been taken swiftly to issue a banning order,” the club said in a statement.

Prime Minister Boris Johnson, Home Secretary Priti Patel, and Culture Secretary Oliver Dowden all condemned the abuse, but former England defender Gary Neville criticized Johnson’s leadership.

He said: “I’m just reading your breaking news and it says the `PM condemns racist abuse of England players’.

“Gareth Southgate and the players a few weeks ago, about five days on the trot, told us they were taking the knee to promote equality and it was against racism.

“The Prime Minister said it was OK for the population of this country to boo those players who were trying to promote equality and defend against racism. It starts at the very top.

“I wasn’t surprised in the slightest that I woke up to those headlines. I expected it the minute the three players missed.”

Anti-discrimination body “Kick It Out” again called on social media companies and the Government to stamp out the abuse on online platforms.

“We will continue to work with our partners in football to drive discrimination out of the game. But we call on those with the power to act now,” its chief executive Tony Burnett said.

“The social media companies need to do more to stamp out abuse on their platforms, and the Government also needs to step up and keep its promise to regulate. The Online Safety Bill could be a game-changer and we aim to help make that happen.”

Twitter said it had proactively removed more than 1,000 posts over the past 24 hours which violated its policy and also taken swift action to permanently suspend a number of accounts.

Facebook, which owns Instagram, said it tries to remove harmful content as quickly as possible and encouraged people to use the tools it offers to block abuse.

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