British Police Investigate Racist Twitter Attacks on English Soccer Players

5:59 AM PST 06/26/2012 by Scott Roxborough
Scott Heavey/Getty Images

A user lashed out at Ashley Young and Ashley Cole after they missed penalties in England’s loss to Italy in the latest report of racism at the Euro 2012 soccer tournament.

COLOGNE, Germany – Police in Britain have launched an investigation into the online racist abuse of two black English soccer players following England’s loss to Italy in the Euro 2012 soccer championships.

A user on Twitter lashed out at English players Ashley Cole and Ashley Young after the two missed penalty kicks in England’s Sunday night quarterfinal loss to Italy. The tweets used racial slurs and abusive language.

In one post, the person said the comments were “a joke,” but other Twitter users reported the offensive actions to Scotland Yard’s online hate crime monitoring web site. London Metropolitan police have launched an investigation, examining whether the Twitter comments constitute a public order offense. British law outlaws acts “intended or likely to stir up racial hatred.”

England’s national soccer body, the Football Association, condemned the Twitter abuse. “(Cole and Young) have given everything for the national team at Euro 2012, and it is appalling and unexceptable that messages of an abusive type are being posted,” the Association said in a statement. “We support any police investigation in identifying who is behind this.”

This isn’t the first incidence of racist abuse on Twitter at Euro 2012. Mesut Ozil had his management register a formal complaint after an unnamed Twitter user made racist comments about the German midfielder following Germany’s first-round match against Denmark on June 17.

The Tweeter said Ozil, who was born in Germany to Turkish parents, was not a real German and that the German squad should field only “pure-blooded Germans.”
Twitter closed down the offending account after more than 3,000 tweets and protests from other users.

Racist fans have been a recurring theme at Euro 2012. European soccer governing body UEFA has fined the German soccer association $31,200 after fans displayed a neo-Nazi flag during Germany’s quarterfinal match against Greece last Friday.

UEFA has issued similar fines against Croatia’s soccer association for its fans' abuse of black Italian striker Mario Balotelli and against the Russian soccer union for monkey chants aimed by Russia fans at Theodor Gebre Selaisse, a Czech defender of Ethiopian descent.

UEFA on Tuesday also opened disciplinary proceedings against the Spainish soccer federation for racist chanting by its fans during Euro 2012 matches.

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