Euro 2024: Police brief England stars on how they plan to deal with online abuse ahead of summer tournament

Euro 2024: Police brief England stars on how they plan to deal with online abuse ahead of summer tournament

England players have been briefed by police on action to deal with racist abuse on social media ahead of the European Championship.

They were told social media companies are now providing greater assistance in gathering evidence to prosecute perpetrators.

UK football policing head Mark Roberts revealed officers have assured the England squad that reporting abuse to them will lead to investigations being pursued.

“I get the sense that they were pleased that we are taking it seriously, and they know that we want to engage,” he told Sky News.

England’s Marcus Rashford missed a penalty in the Euro 2021 final shootout. Pic: PA

“We’ve got a dedicated investigation team. We wanted to go and speak to them, to give them advice as to how to protect themselves with their own settings.

“But equally reassuring them that we are committed to dealing with this and to talk through the process that if they are targets in that way, they know what to do, what will happen, what we will expect to route their concerns for the FA security team.

“So we can pick it up and follow it up.”

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Online racism is still a significant issue for police three years on from Marcus Rashford, Jadon Sancho and Bukayo Saka being targeted after missing penalties in England’s defeat to Italy after the Euros final in 2021.

Now the squad is preparing for the next Euros in Germany.

During the meeting at England’s St George’s Park base in March, police did offer advice on applying filters to attempt to prevent the abuse being seen by the players.

Police say they are receiving information on accounts quicker from social media companies having previously struggled within the six-month time limit to prosecute offenders under the Malicious Communications Act.

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“We’re in a good position now,” Mr Roberts said. “[Social media companies] all want to work with us, and generally it’s a matter of days when they turn it round.

“So the important thing for us to get across is if you behave in this way, we are going to identify you in this country … and that’s important because people need to know that they can’t stay anonymous online.

“And there are real-world consequences for the behaviour.”

England’s opening Euro 2024 match is in Gelsenkirchen against Serbia on Sunday 16 June.

They face Denmark four days later in Frankfurt before completing the group in Cologne against Slovenia on Tuesday 25 June.