England’s defeat against Italy on Sunday (11 July), saw a torrent of racist comments aimed at some of the team’s black players appear on platforms including Facebook, Instagram and Twitter.

A hate crime investigation is underway by the UK Football Policing Unit (UKFPU), with a dedicated team of investigators working their way through a large number of reports from across the country.

So far, dozens of data applications have been submitted to social media companies and four people have been arrested by local police forces.

Chief Constable Mark Roberts, National Police Chiefs’ Council Football Policing Lead, said: “The racial abuse aimed at our own players following Sunday night’s game is utterly vile and has quite rightly shocked and appalled people across the country.

“Our England team have been true role models during the tournament, conducting themselves with professionalism and dignity. I’m disgusted there are individuals out there who think it’s acceptable to direct such abhorrent abuse at them, or at anybody else.

“The UKFPU investigation is well underway and work continues to identify those responsible. We are working very closely with social media platforms, who are providing data we need to progress enquiries.

“If we identify that you are behind this crime, we will track you down and you will face the serious consequences of your shameful actions.”

Reports come in to the UKFPU through various channels including from local forces, charities, football clubs and other partner organisations. The team assesses the content and makes initial enquiries to trace the perpetrators, with continuing assistance from social media companies including Facebook, Instagram and Twitter.

When an offender’s details are identified, these are passed onto the relevant local force to investigate further and take appropriate action in conjunction with the CPS.

UK Prime Minister, Boris Johnson, announced on Wednesday the government was looking to take tough action on those found guilty of online abuse and would amend Football Banning Orders to include this type of behaviour which could see perpetrators banned from attending football stadia from 3 to 10 years.

The hate crime investigation follows a night of widespread crime and disorder after Sunday’s match. As of 13 July, 897 football-related incidents and 264 arrests had been recorded across the country in the 24-hour period surrounding the final. This brings the total number of football-related incidents during the tournament to 2,344, with 630 arrests. These numbers are a significant increase compared to the criminal incidents seen during previous tournaments including the 2018 World Cup and Euro 2016.

If you would like to report a hate crime, contact your local force by calling 101 or visiting their online reporting portal. You can also report to True Vision at www.report-it.org.uk. Discrimination in football can be reported via Kick it Out at https://www.kickitout.org

Originally published by fcbusiness.

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