Racist abuse: Portsmouth begin disciplinary process against a number of Under-18 players

Portsmouth FC
Portsmouth's first team are about to begin their fifth successive season in League One

Portsmouth have begun a disciplinary process against a number of Under-18 team players after allegations they used racially abusive language.

Pompey started an inquiry after images on social media allegedly showed some players using offensive images and words in a private youth team chat.

The posts were made after England were beaten by Italy in the Euro 2020 final.

Marcus Rashford, Jadon Sancho and Bukayo Saka suffered racist abuse after missing penalties in the shootout loss.

"A disciplinary process will now begin, which - in line with club policy and employment law - will last for a minimum of five working days," a club statement said.

"All members of the Under-18 side were suspended while the investigation took place, but those who are not involved in the disciplinary process have now returned to training.

"With that in mind and in regards to this sensitive matter, Portsmouth FC would continue to respectfully appeal for everyone's consideration in their use of social media posts directed towards any of its employees and, indeed, any other external parties."

Police inquiry

The allegations came to light on Wednesday 14 July, and Hampshire Constabulary said it was investigating the allegations which were "being treated as a hate-related incident".

The force said it was working with the football club as part of their response.

"We will not tolerate hate crime in Portsmouth," a Hampshire police statement said at the time. "Any crime perpetuated through ignorance, prejudice or hate is unacceptable."

Writing on Twitter,external-link Portsmouth owner Michael Eisner said last week: "There is no place for hatred or bigotry of any kind at Portsmouth FC or any other organisation with which I'm affiliated.

"We won't tolerate it, and there will be appropriate consequences for anyone who engages in racist behaviour in social media or elsewhere."

The abuse directed at the England players on social media in the wake of England's penalty shootout loss to Italy led to widespread condemnation across the country.

England defender Tyrone Mings accused home secretary Priti Patel of pretending to be disgusted by the abuse suffered by the players, after she had previously described taking the knee as "gesture politics" at the start of the tournament.

A mural of Rashford in Manchester was daubed with graffiti, leading to around 700 people attending an anti-racism demonstration at the site.

Greater Manchester Police later said the "content of the vandalism" was "not believed to be of a racial nature".

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