A petition demanding racists receive a lifetime ban from football matches has now passed one million signatures.
It was sparked by England forwards Marcus Rashford, Jadon Sancho and Bukayo Saka receiving racist abuse on social media following Sunday’s Euro 2020 final defeat to Italy after missing in the penalty shoot-out.
Prime Minister Boris Johnson, England manager Gareth Southgate and the FA were among those to condemn the online abuse.
The statement that was published with the petition calls on the Football Association and the government “to work together now to ban all those who have carried out racist abuse, online or offline, from all football matches in England for life”.
The three women who started the petition, Shaista, Amna and Huda – who refer to themselves as the three Hijabis – also said: “As multi-racial football fans, we finally feel represented by this anti-racist and inclusive England team.
“We could not be more proud or inspired by our magnificent team and by their talent, bravery, leadership and love for all. Gareth Southgate’s England team plays for all of us.
“Their vision is an inclusive vision and this matters more than ever – it’s why we feel proud of this team and why they’re so cherished and loved by many of us. There should be no room for racists and bigotry in football or society.
“Our England team stood up for all of us – now we must stand up for them.”
The Prime Minister met with social media companies at Downing Street on Tuesday to discuss how to better tackle online abuse.
Rashford released an emotional statement on Monday evening, saying sorry to England fans for missing a penalty, while adding that he would “never apologise for who I am” in response to the racist abuse he had to endure.
Police investigating a racist tweet aimed at the Manchester United forward have arrested and released a 50-year-old man.
West Mercia Police said the suspect, from Powick, near Worcester, was detained on suspicion of inciting racial hatred following reports of an inappropriate tweet posted on Sunday.
Media reports said the offensive tweet appeared on the account of a youth football coach, who claims his Twitter account was hacked.
Arsenal forward Saka, meanwhile, has been backed to recover from the ordeal by club manager Mikel Arteta, who says he and the rest of the squad have reached out to the 19-year-old to offer their support.
“He will be fine,” Arteta told Sky Sports News. “He is such a strong character. He has received a lot of love and support from world football, not only with Arsenal but the national team and all the English fans because he doesn’t deserve anything like [what] he has been through.”
Saka has also received support from Londoners, who have graffitied his name onto the side of a district line train.
The message reads: “Saka it’s OK”.
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Home Secretary Priti Patel was another who denounced the abuse in strong terms, saying it has “no place in our country and I back the police to hold those responsible accountable”.
But she was criticised by England and Aston Villa defender Tyrone Mings, who pointed out that Patel has criticised the players in the past for their decision to take a knee before matches – which they believe is an important signal of their determination to fight against racism.
Responding to Patel’s comments, Mings wrote: “You don’t get to stoke the fire at the beginning of the tournament by labelling our anti-racism message as ‘Gesture Politics’ & then pretend to be disgusted when the very thing we’re campaigning against, happens.”
Most fans in England think racism exists in professional football but just over half think it is a serious problem, a YouGov survey shared with Sky Sports News has revealed.
Polling company YouGov conducted a study of 4,500 football fans carried out over several months across nine European countries.
Fans in England were asked at the end of March whether they thought racism existed in professional football in the country. They were asked the question again in mid-June, days after England players were initially booed by sections of the Wembley crowd before applause and cheering broke out as the team took a knee ahead of their Euro 2020 opener against Croatia.
Some 54 per cent of fans in England said racism in football is a serious issue, compared to 57 per cent back in March. More people in June (36 per cent) said racism existed in football but is not serious, compared with March (34 per cent).
The June poll was taken four weeks before Marcus Rashford, Jadon Sancho and Bukayo Saka were targeted with racist abuse online after England’s Euro 2020 penalty shootout loss to Italy.