Police investigating the online racial abuse of England players following the Euro 2020 final against Italy have made 11 arrests so far. Marcus Rashford, Jadon Sancho and Bukayo Saka were victims of abuse after they missed penalties in the shoot-out defeat at Wembley last month.
The UK Football Policing Unit says its investigation team has received more than 600 reports from individuals, charities, clubs and other organisations across the country, and 207 were criminal in nature, with 34 accounts identified as being in the UK.
Extent of this abuse
The unit has made data requests to social media companies to progress further investigations, and where there have been responses, the information has been passed on to local police forces, who have so far arrested 11 people on suspicion of a number of offences, including malicious communications and breaching section 127 of the Communications Act 2003.
Of the 207 criminal social media posts, 123 accounts belong to individuals outside the United Kingdom and the details of those people and cases are being passed on to the relevant countries to act on them.
The unit is waiting for data from social media companies on the remaining 50 account holders.
The investigation continues
Chief Constable Mark Roberts, National Police Chiefs’ Council football policing lead, said:
There are people out there who believe they can hide behind a social media profile and get away with posting such abhorrent comments.
They need to think again – we have investigators proactively seeking out abusive comments in connection to the match and, if they meet a criminal threshold, those posting them will be arrested.
Our investigation is continuing at pace and we are grateful for those who have taken time to report racist posts to us.
The complexities of investigating social media abuse cannot be underestimated. A vast amount of work has gone in to identifying these 11 individuals. I would like to thank Facebook, Instagram and Twitter for responding to our requests promptly.
In the meantime, we are seeking engagement with the players themselves to offer our support, and seek their input for our investigation and subsequent prosecutions in conjunction with the CPS.
Those arrested so far range in age from 18 to 63, and include three people from London, two from Christchurch, Dorset, one from Runcorn, Cheshire, one from Sale, Greater Manchester, one from Folkestone, Kent, one from Reading, one from Shrewsbury and one from Worcester.
They have all either been released under investigation pending further enquiries or bailed to return at a later date.
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