William condemns ‘despicable’ online racist abuse against footballers

The Duke of Cambridge has said racist abuse in football is “despicable” and “must stop”, after several black players were targeted online this week.

Chelsea defender Reece James, West Brom’s Romaine Sawyers, Manchester United’s Marcus Rashford and his teammates Axel Tuanzebe and Anthony Martial have all suffered abuse via social media in recent days.

William, who is also the Football Association’s president-designate, said on Twitter: “Racist abuse – whether on the pitch, in the stands, or on social media – is despicable and it must stop now.

Romaine Sawyers
Romaine Sawyers

“We all have a responsibility to create an environment where such abuse is not tolerated, and those who choose to spread hate and division are held accountable for their actions.

“That responsibility extends to the platforms where so much of this activity now takes place.

“I commend all those players, supporters, clubs and organisations who continue to call out and condemn this abuse in the strongest terms.”

So far, a 49-year-old man has been arrested on suspicion of racially abusing Sawyers, and Greater Manchester Police are investigating comments made to Rashford on Saturday.

The spate of racist comments has put pressure on the Government’s plans to introduce new laws on online abuse this year, and the Football Association has vowed to work with them and social media platforms to eradicate racism from the game.