England footballer Tyrone Mings has launched a blistering attack on Priti Patel over her response to racist abuse after the home secretary previously described taking the knee as “gesture politics”.
Marcus Rashford, Bukayo Saka and Jordan Sancho have been subjected to racist hate on social media after they missed penalties in the Euro 2020 final against Italy.
Politicians and celebrities have spoken out against the comments, with Patel tweeting her opposition to the “vile” abuse.
“It has no place in our country and I back the police to hold those responsible accountable,” she wrote.
But centre-back Mings accused the home secretary of “stoking the fire” with her previous refusal to criticise fans who booed England players taking the knee.
“You don’t get to stoke the fire at the beginning of the tournament by labelling our anti-racism message as ‘Gesture Politics’ & then pretend to be disgusted when the very thing we’re campaigning against, happens,” he said.
In addition to online abuse, a mural of England striker Marcus Rashford in Manchester was defaced with racist comments. It has since been covered with messages of support.
In a statement Rashford apologised for his penalty miss but said he would never apologise for who he was.
“I can take critique of my performance all day long, my penalty was not good enough, it should have gone in but I will never apologise for who I am and where I came from,” he said.
Calls have been growing for social media firms to do more to tackle abuse amid concerns that many offensive posts remained online for hours without action.
Facebook, which also owns Instagram, reportedly sent an internal memo to staff with “talking points” to be used in conversations with friends and family.
The memo, seen by Buzzfeed News, is said to have sparked anger among many employees.
A Facebook spokesperson said: “We quickly removed comments and accounts directing abuse at England’s footballers last night and we’ll continue to take action against those that break our rules.”
Twitter said it had removed over 1,000 tweets and suspended multiple accounts in the 24 hours after the game.