Police have arrested 11 people as part of their ongoing investigation into the racist abuse directed towards England players after July's Euro 2020 final.
Bukayo Saka, Jadon Sancho and Marcus Rashford were all targeted by abhorrent abuse on social media in the immediate aftermath of England's penalty shootout defeat to Italy, while a mural of Rashford in Manchester was defaced.
The National Police Chiefs' Council confirmed a hate crime investigation had been launched into the abuse after over 600 incidents were reported to them. Of those 600, 207 have been ruled to be criminal in nature, with 123 accounts identified as belonging to users from overseas and 34 currently based in England. Details about the remaining 50 are yet to be received.
Of those 34, 11 arrests have been made, and the details of the offences from overseas have all been passed on to the relevant authorities in the hope of securing more arrests.
"There are people out there who believe they can hide behind a social media profile and get away with posting such abhorrent comments," said Chief Constable Mark Roberts. "They need to think again – we have investigators proactively seeking out abusive comments in connection to the match and, if they meet a criminal threshold, those posting them will be arrested.
"Our investigation is continuing at pace and we are grateful for those who have taken time to report racist posts to us.
“The complexities of investigating social media abuse cannot be underestimated. A vast amount of work has gone in to identifying these eleven individuals. I would like to thank Facebook, Instagram and Twitter for responding to our requests promptly.
"In the meantime, we are seeking engagement with the players themselves to offer our support, and seek their input for our investigation and subsequent prosecutions in conjunction with the CPS."
The arrests come as an investigation from the Professional Footballers’ Association revealed there was a 48% increase in unmoderated racist online abuse in the second half of the 2020/21, with half of that coming from UK-based accounts.
It was also confirmed that over 75% of accounts found to have racially abused players during the season were still active, with only 56% of posts identified as racially abusive taken down.