Portsmouth Football Club have sacked three academy players for sending racist messages about Marcus Rashford, Bukayo Saka and Jadon Sancho after England’s defeat in the Euro 2020 final.
Manchester United stars Rashford and Sancho and Arsenal winger Saka were all subjected to racist abuse on social media after missing penalties in the final against Italy.
Portsmouth – who play in League One, the third tier of English football – launched an investigation earlier this month into claims three of their academy players sent racist messages about the England trio in a group chat.
One player is alleged to have wrote: ‘Rashford is getting lynched’, to which another replied: ‘Exactly. N******. All black ones missed.’
Another message read: ‘F*** the n****** absolute c****.’
Portsmouth have now confirmed three players have been released, with the club insisting they are ‘fully committed to the elimination of all forms of discrimination’.
A statement from the club read: ‘Portsmouth Football Club can confirm that the investigation – and subsequent disciplinary process – into discriminatory messages that originated from an academy U18 private group chat has now concluded.
‘We can confirm that a decision has been made today to release three players from the academy. These players do have the right to appeal the club’s decision.
‘Portsmouth Football Club are fully committed to the elimination of all forms of discrimination.
‘We are part of a diverse community and are dedicated to promoting an environment of equality and inclusion at all times – both inside the football club and in our wider society.
‘We also continue to respectfully appeal for everyone’s consideration in their use of social media posts directed towards any of the club’s employees and any other external parties.’
England captain Harry Kane was among those to condemn fans who racially abused Rashford, Saka and Sancho.
‘They deserve support and backing, not the vile racist abuse they’ve had since last night, the Tottenham striker said.
‘Three lads who were brilliant all summer had the courage to step up and take a pen when the stakes were high. If you abuse anyone on social media you’re not an England fan and we don’t want you.’
According to Metro, the Three Lions manager Gareth Southgate added: ‘It’s just not what we stand for.
‘We have been a beacon of light in bringing people together, in people being able to relate to the national team, and the national team stands for everybody and so that togetherness has to continue.
‘We have shown the power our country has when it does come together and has that energy and positivity together.
‘It’s my decision who takes the penalties, it’s not a case of players not volunteering or more experienced players backing out.’