UK arrests 11 over racist abuse targeting Black England players

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Police in the United Kingdom have arrested 11 people in connection with the online racial abuse of three Black English football players following the team’s performance in the Euro 2020 final last month.

All but one are men and range in age from 18 to 63 years old, police said.

Marcus Rashford, Jadon Sancho and Bukayo Saka were targeted on social media after the national team’s penalty shoot-out defeat to Italy on July 11.

English football’s governing body, England manager Gareth Southgate and British Prime Minister Boris Johnson condemned the abuse at the time, along with other high profile figures, while a campaign grew for social media companies to step up their efforts against online hate on their platforms.

The UK Football Policing Unit (UKFPU), which is conducting a hate crime investigation into the incidents, said in a statement on Thursday that it had received more than 600 reports of racist comments being sent to England’s Black players after the match.

Police judged 207 of the posts identified to be “criminal in nature”.

They have identified 34 accounts belonging to individuals in the UK; 11 of those accounts holders have now been arrested.

UKFPU said it was awaiting data from social media companies on the remaining 50 account holders.

It also identified 123 accounts belonging to individuals outside the UK.

Details of those individuals will be handed to relevant authorities to act, UKFPU said.

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