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Euro 2020: Four arrested as police contact social media giants over posts aimed at England players

An investigation into posts aimed at England players after the Euros final has resulted in four arrests and dozens of data applications to social media companies, police have said.

Following the team’s defeat against Italy on Sunday, a torrent of racist comments aimed at some of the black players appeared on platforms including Facebook, Instagram and Twitter.

A hate crime investigation was launched 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.

Chief Constable Mark Roberts, the football policing lead at the National Police Chiefs’ Council, said dozens of data applications had been submitted to social media companies and four people have been arrested by local police forces.

“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,” he said.

“Our England team have been true role models during the tournament, conducting themselves with professionalism and dignity.

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“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.”

On Wednesday, Greater Manchester Police said a 37-year-old man had handed himself in at Cheadle Heath police station.

He was arrested on suspicion of an offence under the Malicious Communications Act and remains in custody for questioning.

Two men were also arrested by West Mercia Police – a 50-year-old man from Powick, near Worcester, and a man in his 60s from Shropshire.

There were 897 football-related incidents and 264 arrests recorded across the country in the 24-hour period surrounding the final.

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The figure brings the total number of football-related incidents during the Euro 2020 tournament to 2,344, with 630 arrests.

Police said the numbers were a “significant increase” compared to the incidents seen during previous tournaments including the 2018 World Cup and Euro 2016.

The UKFPU receives allegations of offensive posts from local forces, charities and football clubs and assesses the content before contacting social media companies to trace those behind messages.

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