Marcus Rashford: Police investigating ‘70 racial slurs’ sent to footballer

Footballer says he was sent abusive messages after Manchester United’s Europa League final defeat on Wednesday

Clea Skopeliti
Thursday 27 May 2021 19:48
<p>The England international has been subjected to online abuse on more than one occasion </p>

The England international has been subjected to online abuse on more than one occasion

Police are investigating a barrage of racist comments sent to Marcus Rashford and other Manchester United players following the team’s Europa League final loss on Wednesday evening.

Officers are working through the abusive posts sent to players including Mr Rashford, who said he had received “at least 70 racial slurs” after the team’s defeat to Spanish side Villarreal on penalties in Gdansk.

“At least 70 racial slurs on my social accounts counted so far. For those working to make me feel any worse than I already do, good luck trying,” the 23-year-old forward tweeted.

The England international said that a maths teacher with an open profile had sent him monkey emojis in a direct message. “I’m more outraged that one of the abusers that left a mountain of monkey emojis in my DM is a maths teacher with an open profile. He teaches children!! And knows that he can freely racially abuse without consequence…”

Assistant chief constable for Greater Manchester Police (GMP), Chris Sykes said officers were investigating posts targeting several footballers, warning that those behind the abuse may face criminal proceedings.

Mr Sykes said: “We are aware of a number of racially aggravated social media posts made yesterday evening towards numerous Manchester United players.

“We are working through the posts from yesterday, which originate from countries across the world as well as the UK, to investigate these crimes. Tackling hate crime remains a priority for GMP. We take these reports very seriously and are working with our partners to ensure those responsible are identified.

“Nobody should be subject to hateful language and abuse and it is deeply upsetting not only to those who receive these comments, but to anyone who witnesses it on a public forum. Those who make these posts subject themselves, not just to criminal proceedings but to long-term implications to their personal and professional lives by making these comments.”

It is not the first time racist abuse has been sent to Mr Rashford, who is also a powerful activist against child food poverty. In January, police investigated racist comments sent to the England striker as well as other players.

A number of Premier League footballers spoke out after being targeted at the beginning of the year, including Mr Rashford’s club teammates Axel Tuanzebe and Anthony Martial, as well as West Bromwich Albion’s Romaine Sawyers and Chelsea’s Reece James.

The Football Association and Premier League condemned the racist abuse and urged social media platforms to take a tougher stance against hateful online behaviour.

After being targeted with abuse in January, Mr Rashford wrote: “Yes, I’m a black man and I live every day proud that I am. No one is going to make me feel any different. So sorry if you were looking for a strong reaction, you’re just simply not going to get it here.”

The issue of online abuse pushed football clubs and players to hold a four-day social media boycott at the beginning of May in order to put pressure on online platforms to do more to prevent abuse on their sites.

Following the final on Wednesday, Manchester United said its players had been sent online abuse, though it did not specify who else had received these comments.

The club tweeted: “Following the #UEL final, our players were subjected to disgraceful racist abuse. If you see any form of abuse or discrimination, act and report it.”

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