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England FA, PM condemn racist abuse of Black players

Italy's midfielder Federico Bernardeschi (bottom) vies for the ball with England's midfielder Bukayo Saka during the UEFA EURO 2020 final   -  
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LAURENCE GRIFFITHS/AFP

Racism

The racist insults poured out on social networks against three black players of the English team after their defeat against Italy in the Euro final on Sunday were unanimously condemned on Monday, from Prime Minister Boris Johnson to coach Gareth Southgate, who called them "unforgivable.

"This England team deserves to be treated as heroes, not (victims of) racist insults on social media. Those responsible for this appalling abuse should be ashamed of themselves," Boris Johnson said on Twitter.

At a press conference on Monday, England coach Gareth Southgate called such comments "unforgivable". "Some of it comes from abroad, we've been told, but some of it comes from this country," he added, preferring to remember the "energy and positive spirit of the fans."

The English Football Association said it was "appalled" by the racist remarks against Marcus Rashford, Jadon Sancho and Bukayo Saka.

"We are disgusted that members of our team, who have given their all this summer, have been subjected to discriminatory attacks online after tonight's game," the FA lamented on Twitter.

The three players, who came on late in the game, missed their penalty kicks, sealing England's defeat by Italy on penalties.

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The London police announced that they were "investigating" these "insulting and racist" publications online.

Culture and Sports Minister Oliver Dowden called on social networking platforms to do more to tackle online racism, warning that "if they don't, our new Online Safety Bill will see them fined up to 10 percent of global revenues".

A Facebook spokesperson assured that the company had "quickly removed comments and accounts insulting English footballers" and promised to "continue to take action against those who break our rules".

Former players have come out in support of the three players, calling on executives to do more against racism. Former Manchester United player Gary Neville said the example must come "from the top", criticizing Boris Johnson.

While the English players had decided to kneel down to denounce racism, "the Prime Minister said that we could boo these players who were trying to promote equality," said Gary Neville on SkyNews, "not surprised" by this new racist episode.

Endemic racism

English soccer has been confronted for years with a phenomenon of online racism targeting players after the defeat of their club or after disappointing performances.

In May, the FA called on the government to legislate without delay to force social networks to act against the online insults that have already targeted Marcus Rashford.

AFP