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15 Jul, 2021 11:02

Four arrested as ‘hate crime investigation’ underway related to racial abuse directed at England stars Rashford, Sancho and Saka

Four arrested as ‘hate crime investigation’ underway related to racial abuse directed at England stars Rashford, Sancho and Saka

Four people have been arrested amid an investigation into 'hate crime' related to the racial abuse directed at England players Marcus Rashford, Jadon Sancho and Bukayo Saka following England's Euro 2020 final defeat to Italy.

The trio of players were targeted by racist thugs on social media after missing crucial penalties in England's latest heartache from the penalty spot last weekend, with English cops revealing that four arrests have been made amid a wide-ranging probe into the events which transpired online in the hours after the Wembley final. 

"Following England's defeat against Italy on Sunday, a torrent of racist comments aimed at some of the team's black players appeared on platforms including Facebook, Instagram and Twitter," the UK Football Policing Unit said.

"A hate crime investigation is under way by the UKFPU [United Kingdom Football Policing Unit], with a dedicated team of investigators working their way through a large number of reports from across the country.

"So far, dozens of data applications have been submitted to social media companies and four people have been arrested by local police forces."

According to UK Prime Minister Boris Johnson, anyone convicted of directing racial abuse towards footballers online could face a lifetime ban from attending football matches in England, as the Tory leader announced plans to beef up legislation aimed at preventing the trend on Wednesday.

Previously, fans who issued racist threats inside football grounds were liable to be removed from stadiums and issued with banning orders – but the proposed strengthening of the legislation will extend those powers to fans who engage in racist behavior online.

The four arrests are the latest hangover from England's ill-fated final on Sunday evening, which was the biggest game that the national team has played in 55 years since their World Cup win in 1966, and follows a UEFA probe into events which saw hundreds of ticketless fans attempt to storm the famous stadium to gain entry to the game.

Footage posted to social media showed several violent confrontations between fans and stewards in and around Wembley - with the father of Manchester United skipper Harry Maguire suffering damaged ribs in a melee.

Speculation into UEFA's probe suggests that European football's governing body may issue England with a stadium ban due to the actions of the offending supporters.

Also on rt.com ‘You will not be going to the match – no ifs, no buts’: UK PM Boris Johnson announces plans to BAN racist fans from going to games

The racial abuse sent to England players, though, seems to have focused authorities' efforts into an attempt to stamp out what they describe as "vile" behavior from fans.

"The racial abuse aimed at our own players following Sunday night’s game is utterly vile and has quite rightly shocked and appalled people across the country," said Chief Constable Mark Roberts, of the National Police Chiefs’ Council football policing unit. 

"Our England team have been true role models during the tournament, conducting themselves with professionalism and dignity. I'm disgusted there are individuals out there who think it's acceptable to direct such abhorrent abuse at them, or at anybody else.

"The UKFPU investigation is well under way and work continues to identify those responsible. We are working very closely with social media platforms, who are providing data we need to progress enquiries."

Also on rt.com Euro 2020 final ‘could have been abandoned’, say Met Police chiefs as they defend response to chaotic Wembley scenes