Eleven people have been arrested so far as a result of a hate crime investigation into racist comments directed at a number of black England players after the Euro 2020 final, the National Police Chiefs’ Council (NPCC) said on Thursday.
Nine men and one woman, aged between 18 and 63, were arrested on suspicion of offences contrary to section 127 of the Communications Act 2003, and a 42-year-old man was arrested on suspicion of displaying threatening, abusive, or insulting written material that is likely to stir up racial hatred, the NPCC said.
Two men have been bailed to return at a later date, and the other nine individuals were released under investigation pending further inquiries.
The investigation, launched by the UK Football Policing Unit, is “continuing at pace,” the NPCC said.
England lost the European Championship to Italy in a penalty shootout on July 11, disappointing fans hoping to celebrate the team’s first international trophy since the 1966 World Cup.
Three black players, Jadon Sancho, Bukayo Saka, and Marcus Rashford were subject to online racial abuse after they missed their penalties.
A mural of Rashford was also defaced, but police later determined the act wasn’t of a racial nature.
Police said the investigation had received more than 600 reports from individuals, charities, clubs, and other organisations across the country, and 207 of them were deemed to be “criminal in nature.”
The police contacted social media platforms for information on the 207 accounts, the majority of which were found to belong to individuals outside the UK.
A total of 34 accounts were identified as being in the UK, and 123 accounts as being outside the UK. Police are still waiting for information on the remaining 50 accounts.
The NPCC said that police are also “proactively” looking for abusive comments.
“There are people out there who believe they can hide behind a social media profile and get away with posting such abhorrent comments. They need to think again,” NPCC Football Policing Lead, Chief Constable Mark Roberts, said in a statement.
“We have investigators proactively seeking out abusive comments in connection to the match and, if they meet a criminal threshold, those posting them will be arrested,” he said.
“Our investigation is continuing at pace and we are grateful for those who have taken time to report racist posts to us.”
Roberts also thanked Facebook, Instagram, and Twitter for their prompt response.