England manager Gareth Southgate said the racist abuse aimed at Marcus Rashford, Jadon Sancho and Bukayo Saka after the Euro 2020 final defeat by Italy was “unforgivable”.
Prime Minister Boris Johnson and the Football Association also condemned it. All three players missed penalties in the 3-2 shootout loss and were targeted on social media after the game. The Metropolitan Police is investigating the abuse and said “it will not be tolerated”. “It’s just not what we stand for,” said Southgate. “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. “It’s my decision who takes the penalties, it’s not a case of players not volunteering or more experienced players backing out.” European football’s governing body Uefa condemned the “disgusting racist abuse”, adding: “We stand by the players and the FA’s call for the strongest possible punishments.” On Monday, League Two side Leyton Orient said they had banned a fan for three years in connection with the abuse. “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. England had reached their first final in a major tournament since winning the World Cup in 1966 and, despite taking the lead against Italy, drew 1-1 after extra time before a penalty shootout. “This England team deserve to be lauded as heroes, not racially abused on social media,” said the prime minister. “Those responsible for this appalling abuse should be ashamed of themselves.” England’s players have taken a knee before games at the Euros to highlight the fight against racial inequality. On the day the tournament started on 11 June, the prime minister did not condemn fans who jeered when England players took the knee during two warm-up games. Instead, Johnson said he wanted to see fans “getting behind the team to cheer them on” – and was then accused of not having “the guts to call it out” by Labour leader Sir Keir Starmer.