Portsmouth investigating academy players after claims of racist abuse towards Rashford & England squad

Marcus Rashford Portsmouth Football Club
Getty/Goal/Portsmouth FC
The club have released a statement in response to the controversial images from an U18 group chat currently doing the rounds on social media

Portsmouth are investigating claims that a number of their academy players aimed racist abuse towards members of the England squad, including Marcus Rashford, following their Euro 2020 final loss to Italy.

England lost their first European Championship final on penalties against Italy on Sunday, with Rashford, Jadon Sancho and Bukayo Saka all missing from 12 yards to hand the Azzurri their sixth international title.

The Three Lions trio were targeted by social media trolls after the game, and Portsmouth have now been caught up in the controversy as football authorities continue to struggle with the issue of online racism.

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What claims have been made against Portsmouth?

Images have surfaced on social platforms purportedly showing screen grabs from a Portsmouth U18 group chat, during which racist language is used.

Offensive pictures are also visible in the posts, which originated from the popular multimedia messaging app Snapchat.

Portsmouth's response

Portsmouth have responded to the allegations against their academy stars by launching an internal investigation.

"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," a statement on the club's official website reads.

"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."

The FA's stance on racism

The English Football Association released its own statement following England's defeat to Italy, condemning the actions of those responsible for aiming racist abuse at Rashford, Sancho and Saka while calling on the government and social media companies to do more to protect players online.

"We strongly condemn all forms of discrimination and are appalled by the online racism that has been aimed at some of our England players on social media," the statement read. "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. We will continue to do everything we can to stamp discrimination out of the game, but we implore the government to act quickly and bring in the appropriate legislation so this abuse has real-life consequences. 

"Social media companies need to step up and take accountability and action to ban abusers from their platforms, gather evidence that can lead to prosecution and support making the platforms free from this type of abhorrent abuse."

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