FA condemns racist abuse of players: Fans charge security at Wembley, 19 police injured

England’s Football Association released a statement in the early hours of Monday morning condemning the online racist abuse of players following the team’s penalty shootout loss to Italy in the Euro 2020 final on Sunday.

The sides drew 1-1 after extra time and Italy won the shootout 3-2, with England players Marcus Rashford, Jadon Sancho and Bukayo Saka, who are all Black, missing spot-kicks.

“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,” the statement said. “We could not be clearer that anyone behind such disgusting behaviour is not welcome in following the team.

We will do all we can to support the players affected while urging the toughest punishments possible for anyone responsible.” The England team also released a statement condemning the abuse directed at its players on social media.

“We’re disgusted that some of our squad — who have given everything for the shirt this summer — have been subjected to discriminatory abuse online after tonight’s game,” the team tweeted.

London Mayor Sadiq Khan called on social media companies to remove such content from their platforms. “Those responsible for the disgusting online abuse we have seen must be held accountable — and social media companies need to act immediately to remove and prevent this hate”, Khan said in a tweet.

British police said they would investigate the posts. “We are aware of a number of offensive and racist social media comments being directed towards footballers following the #Euro2020 final,” the Metropolitan Police tweeted.

“This abuse is totally unacceptable, it will not be tolerated and it will be investigated.” Meanwhile British police made 49 arrests and said 19 of its officers were injured after confronting volatile crowds near Wembley Stadium while policing the Euro final.

Fans clashed with each other and officials, breached security cordons and charged into the perimeter area of Wembley before the start of the match, which Italy won after a penalty shootout. “We made 49 arrests during the day for a variety of offences. We will have officers on hand throughout the night”, the Metropolitan Police said on Twitter.

A day of alcohol-fuelled festivities had begun with rowdy scenes in central London and tens of thousands made their way to the national stadium for the game, with flares being let off in railway stations and singing on trains.

Around two hours before the game, fans burst past stewards and some reached the concourse while bottles were thrown in from outside the perimeter. Some security staff were attacked, witnesses said, and entry to the stadium was halted for over 20 minutes while order was restored at the entrances.

Outside the ground, several thousand fans continued drinking and partying in the area immediately adjacent to the entry points with empty beer cans lining the street. Police said they helped the security teams at the ground. “Wembley security officials have confirmed there were no security breaches of people without tickets getting inside the stadium,” the Metropolitan Police said on Twitter.

Some witnesses, however, said they saw isolated cases of fans running through the seating areas inside the ground being chased by security. Inside the stadium, there was a party atmosphere with fans singing “Sweet Caroline” and “Three Lions” – the unofficial anthem of the England team.

Police had previously urged supporters not to travel to Wembley if they did not have match tickets, and complained of multiple cases of flares being set off within the vicinity of railway stations in London.

Across the capital, many had set up camp early with thousands queuing to get into pub gardens before lunchtime and others packed into city squares. Hundreds of fans draped in red and white flags threw and smashed bottles in Leicester Square earlier in the day.

Hours before the 8 p.m. local kick-off, Wembley Way was crammed with supporters all the way from the underground station to the stadium. Beer cans and bottles flew through the air as acrid smoke from flares drifted through the crowd and supporters, dressed in England shirts of various vintages, sang and chanted. England are bidding to win their first major title since lifting the 1966 World Cup.

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