Marcus Rashford was subjected to racist abuse on social media following England’s defeat to Italy in the Euro 2020 final, with the Manchester United star missing a penalty in the shootout
19-year-old Justin Lee Price pleaded guilty at Worcester Magistrates’ Court on Thursday to one count of sending a grossly offensive message. The abuse was sent to Rashford on Twitter following England’s crushing shootout defeat to Italy on Sunday, July 11, 2021, in which the Manchester United star missed a crucial spot-kick.
Price, of Grandison Gardens, Worcester, changed his Twitter username after the tweet was reported, with the teenager hoping to avoid detection as a number of Black players, such as Rashford’s teammates Bukayo Saka and Jadon Sancho, were also abused online after missing their penalties. Mark Johnson of the Crown Prosecution Service stated: “Price targeted a footballer based on the colour of his skin and his action was clearly racist and a hate crime.
“Those who racially abuse footballers ruin the game for all. I hope this case sends out the message that we will not tolerate racism, and offenders will be prosecuted to the full extent of the law.” His colleague, Douglas Mackay, went on to say: “Over recent years and months, hate crimes relating to sporting events have been on the rise.
“The UK Football Policing Unit’s internal mid-season report has shown a significant rise in football-related criminality compared to pre-pandemic levels. At the CPS, we play a crucial role in tackling these crimes and making our national sport inclusive and safe to watch. There is no place for hate in football, and hate crimes such as this has significant impact on victims.”
Price is due to be sentenced on Wednesday, March 30. In the wake of July’s final, Twitter said it had removed more than 1,900 racist, abusive tweets from the platform and claimed that it had identified and removed 1,622 tweets during the match and in the 24 hours afterwards – rising to a total of 1,961 within the next three days.
England manager Gareth Southgate strongly condemned the abuse which blighted a summer that brought much of the nation together to back the Three Lions, saying: “For some of [the players] to be abused is unforgivable really. I know a lot has come from abroad. People who track those things have been able to explain that. But not all of it.
“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 heal together as a team now, and we’re there for them, and I know that 99% of the public will be as well.”
The Duke of Cambridge, Prince William, who is president of the Football Association, added that he was “sickened” by the abuse and affirmed: “It is totally unacceptable that players have to endure this abhorrent behaviour. It must stop now and all those involved should be held accountable.”