Portsmouth investigate alleged racism in England chat among under-18 players

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Portsmouth Investigate Alleged Racism In England Chat Among Under-18 Players
There has been widespread condemnation of racist tweets posted about Marcus Rashford, Jadon Sancho and Bukayo Saka in recent days. © PA Archive/PA Images
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By PA Sport Staff

Portsmouth are investigating allegations that racist messages were posted about England players in the club’s academy under-18s group chat.

Screen shots purporting to be from the chat following Sunday’s penalty shoot-out defeat to Italy in the Euro 2020 final were widely circulated on social media on Wednesday morning, and the Sky Bet League One club are now looking into the matter.

A club statement read: “Portsmouth Football Club are aware of images circulating on social media that allegedly originate from an academy u18 group chat and which are discriminatory in nature.

“The club have launched an immediate investigation and will provide an update once this has been completed.

“Portsmouth Football Club strongly condemn racism and are totally committed to the elimination of all forms of discrimination. There is no place for it in our game or society as a whole.”

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Bukayo Saka, Marcus Rashford and Jadon Sancho were subjected to racist abuse on public social media platforms following Sunday’s defeat.

The Football Association condemned the abuse and said it would do all it could to support the players affected.

Meanwhile, UK Prime Minister Boris Johnson told those who had abused England players to “crawl back under the rock from which you emerged”, and discussed the matter with social media companies on Tuesday.

Ahead of those discussions, a Downing Street spokesman said the Prime Minister would “reiterate the urgent need for action” and for the platforms to assist police investigations seeking to identify those suspected of perpetrating abuse.

But Number 10 also had to issue a defence of Johnson and Home Secretary Priti Patel over their earlier responses.

Aston Villa and England defender Tyrone Mings accused the Home Secretary of having managed to “stoke the fire” in the tournament by claiming the team’s taking of the knee against racism was “gesture politics”.

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Johnson opened a meeting of his Cabinet on Tuesday by condemning the racist attacks players were targeted with after Sunday’s match.

“He said the abuse was utterly disgraceful and had emerged from the dark spaces of the internet,” the Prime Minister’s official spokesman said.

Support for the England players has continued to be shown across the nation, with a petition to permanently ban racists from football matches passing a million signatures in just two days.

Shaista Aziz, Amna Abdullatif and Huda Jawad created the petition on Monday, calling for the English FA and UK Government to work together to ban “all those who have carried out racist abuse, online or offline, from all football matches in England for life”.

Support has been shown for Marcus Rashford (Danny Lawson/PA)

The trio of campaigners, who call themselves The Three Hijabis due to their heritage and dress, have seen their petition go viral.

“To go over one million… we feel validated in our resistance to racism and that what we have been able to articulate is the sentiment that is held nationwide,” Jawad, a feminist and anti-racism activist, told the PA news agency.

The Labour Party has also said courts must be given new powers to ban anyone convicted of online racist abuse from football matches.

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