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England soccer condemns 'racism' aimed at players after Euro loss

Marcus Rashford was one of several England soccer players targeted by racists messages on social media after he missed a penalty kick during a loss to Italy in the postponed UEFA Euro 2020 Final on Sunday in London. Photo by Frank Augstein/EPA-EFE
Marcus Rashford was one of several England soccer players targeted by racists messages on social media after he missed a penalty kick during a loss to Italy in the postponed UEFA Euro 2020 Final on Sunday in London. Photo by Frank Augstein/EPA-EFE

July 12 (UPI) -- England's Football Association, Twitter and Facebook spoke out against discrimination and racism aimed at England soccer players through statements, released after the team's loss to Italy in the UEFA Euro 2020 final.

England players Marcus Rashford, Jadon Sancho and Bukayo Saka were among those targeted after the setback Sunday at Wembley Stadium in London. Italy and England were tied through regulation, which led to a penalty kick shootout. Rashford, Sancho and Saka failed to convert on England's final three attempts.

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Critics went on to send the players hateful messages on social media and defaced a mural of Rashford in Manchester.

"We could not be clearer that anyone behind such disgusting behavior is not welcome in following the team," the FA said late Sunday. "We will do all we can to support the players affected while urging the toughest punishments possible for anyone responsible."

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"The FA strongly condemns all forms of discrimination and is appalled by the online racism that has been aimed at some of our England players on social media."

UEFA, several Premier League teams, London's Metropolitan Police and England government officials released similar statements to condemn the abuse.

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"We are aware of a number of offensive and racist social media comments being directed towards footballers following the Euro 2020 final," the Metropolitan Police tweeted.

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"This abuse is totally unacceptable, it will not be tolerated and it will be investigated."

Facebook and Twitter spokespeople told CNBC they removed more than 1,000 posts and permanently suspended accounts tied to the abuse, which violates the terms of the platforms.

"The abhorrent racist abuse directed at England players last night has absolutely no place on Twitter," a Twitter spokesperson told CNBC.

Previous concerns about online abuse on social media led England players and teams to boycott the platforms in April.

"For some of them to be abused is unforgivable," England manager Gareth Southgate told reporters Monday. "I know a lot of that has come from abroad, people that track those things have explained that, but not all of it.

"It's just not what we stand for. We have been a beacon of light to bring people together and people relating to the national team. The national team stands for everybody."

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England battles Hungary in a World Cup qualifier at 2:45 p.m. EDT Sept. 2 in Budapest, Hungary. The team returns to London for another World Cup qualifier against Andorra at noon EDT Sept. 5 at Wembley Stadium.

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