Boris Johnson today announced that online racists will be banned from football matches after a wave of vile abuse of England stars.
The Prime Minister told MPs that the government is toughening up the football banning order regime as he clashed with Keir Starmer over his stance on the national team ‘taking the knee’ before matches.
The Labour leader attacked Mr Johnson at PMQs demanding to know if he regretted branding the anti-racism symbol ‘gesture’ politics.
He jibed that the premier had been focused on fighting a ‘culture war’ but had now realised he was on the ‘wrong side’, with outrage at more than a thousand racist tweets targeted at the trio who missed penalties in the Euros final.
Mr Johnson replied: ‘I repeat that I utterly condemn and abhor the racist outpourings that we saw on Sunday night, and so what we’re doing is today is taking practical steps to ensure that the football banning order regime is changed, so that if you are guilty of racist abuse online of footballers, then you will not be going to the match, no ifs, no buts, no exemptions and no excuses.’
told MPs that the government is toughening up the football banning order regime as he clashed with Keir Starmer over his stance on the national team ‘taking the knee’ before matches
The Labour leader attacked Mr Johnson at PMQs demanding to know if he regretted branding the anti-racism symbol ‘gesture’ politics
Mr Johnson had bruising clashes with Sir Keir over the England team race row during the regular PMQs session
One government insider told MailOnline that the tone from ministers on ‘taking the knee’ needed to shift because public views had.
‘The dial has moved. If you look at the polls you can see that. The England players have redefined taking the knee,’ they said.
A shadow cabinet minister also suggested the balance in the ‘culture wars’ appeared to be changing.
‘In Hartlepool the Tories were sending round leaflets pointing out that Keir had taken the knee. I don’t think they would do that again,’ they told MailOnline.
‘No-one believes that Raheem Sterling wants to bring down capitalism or defund the police.’
In a stormy session of PMQs, Sir Keir said: ‘Does the Prime Minister think that it was wrong to criticise the England team’s decision to oppose racism by taking the knee as gesture politics?’
He added: ‘Can he tell the House, does he now regret failing to condemn those who booed England players for standing up to racism – yes or no?’
Mr Johnson replied: ‘We made it absolutely clear that no-one should boo the England team…
‘In addition to changing the football banning order regime, last night I met representatives of Facebook, Twitter, TikTok, Snapchat, Instagram, and I made it absolutely clear to them that we will legislate to address this problem in the Online Harms Bill.
‘And unless they get hate and racism off their platforms they will face fines amounting to 10 per cent of their global revenues – we all know they have the technology to do it.’
Mr Johnson defended Home Secretary Priti Patel’s comments about taking the knee, saying she had been fighting racism ‘all her life’ while also seeking to take ‘practical steps to advance the cause of black and minority ethnic groups’.
But Sir Keir said: ‘We could all see what’s happened here – the Government has been trying to stoke a culture war and they’ve realised they’re on the wrong side, and now they’re hoping nobody has noticed.
‘Why else would a Conservative MP boast that he’s not watching his own team? Why else would another Conservative MP say that Marcus Rashford spends too much time playing politics when he’s actually trying to feed children that the Government won’t? And why will the Prime Minister refuse time and time again – even now – to condemn those who boo our players for standing up against racism?
‘What is it that this England team symbolises that this Conservative Party is so afraid of?’
Ms Patel did not lead for the government on an urgent question in the Commons after PMQs, with Home Office minister Victoria Atkins saying she was hosting an event highlighting violence against women.
It was revealed today that Bukayo Saka, Marcus Rashford and Jadon Sancho will be asked by the Football Association whether they want to see any of those who posted racist abuse prosecuted.
Their views will be passed to investigating officers.
It came as the Centre for Countering Digital Hate (CCDH) said Instagram had taken down just six of 106 accounts reported by users for sending racial abuse to the players.
The i reports it also allowed 42 comments likening the three black players to monkeys, 17 posts containing the ‘N-word’ remain on the platform.
It came as a children’s football coach from Worcestershire was last night arrested on suspicion of inciting racial hatred.
Nick Scott, 50, had previously denied posting racist tweets about Marcus Rashford, claiming that his account had been hacked.
Separately police are investigating claims made by a Savills employee that his Twitter account had been hacked after the upmarket estate agent suspended him over a vile racist tweet posted about black England footballers.
England manager Gareth Southgate and Bukayo Saka look dejected after the final
Gianluigi Donnarumma of Italy saves a penalty from Jadon Sancho of England during the final
Marcus Rashford of England reacts after missing a penalty during the penalty shoot-out
Police have arrested Nick Scott, a children’s football coach aged 50, over one of the tweets
Andrew Bone called in Greater Manchester Police after a tweet was published on his account following England’s penalty shootout defeat to Italy in the Euro 2020 final on Sunday night, which said: ‘N*****s ruined it for us.’
The message was posted on the page of Mr Bone – a commercial building manager who lives in Sale, Cheshire.
After 37-year-old Mr Bone, who is based in Manchester, was widely accused of being a racist, the tweet was deleted. Then, a message on his Twitter page appeared which said: ‘Omg (oh my God), I haven’t said anything.’
His stepfather Robert Dutson then told MailOnline: ‘He didn’t post the remark. His account has been hacked. He has contacted the police about it. They are looking into it now.
Andrew Bone (left and right) called in Greater Manchester Police after a racist tweet was published on his Twitter account
The message was posted on the page of Mr Bone shortly after three England players missed their penalties
A mural honouring England star Marcus Rashford was vandalised less than an hour after Sunday’s Euro 2020 final defeat
What have social media sites said about racist abuse?
Facebook, which also owns Instagram: ‘No one should have to experience racist abuse anywhere, and we don’t want it on Instagram.
‘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.
‘In addition to our work to remove this content, we encourage all players to turn on Hidden Words, a tool which means no one has to see abuse in their comments or DMs.
‘No one thing will fix this challenge overnight, but we’re committed to keeping our community safe from abuse.’
Twitter: ‘The abhorrent racist abuse directed at England players last night (Sunday) has absolutely no place on Twitter.
‘In the past 24 hours, through a combination of machine learning based automation and human review, we have swiftly removed over 1,000 Tweets and permanently suspended a number of accounts for violating our rules – the vast majority of which we detected ourselves proactively using technology.
‘We will continue to take action when we identify any Tweets or accounts that violate our policies.
‘We have proactively engaged and continue to collaborate with our partners across the football community to identify ways to tackle this issue collectively and will continue to play our part in curbing this unacceptable behaviour – both online and offline.’
‘He started getting comments saying he was racist. That is not him.
‘He is not a racist. The tweet appears to have come from a device not used by this account before.’
Social media platforms have faced calls for more tools to tackle and block abusive messages and stricter censure of users who abuse others.
England captain Harry Kane sent a powerful social media message to those who sent racist abuse to players, insisting ‘we don’t want you’.
Saka, Rashford and Sancho were all racially abused online after they failed to score spot-kicks in England’s agonising 3-2 defeat on penalties against Italy in the Euro 2020 final.
Rashford saw his effort strike the post before Gianluigi Donnarumma saved from Sancho and then Saka, and the Three Lions skipper backed his team-mates and insisted those who sent abuse are not real fans.
His tweet read: ‘Three lads who were brilliant all summer had the courage to step up & take a pen when the stakes were high.
‘They deserve support & backing not the vile racist abuse they’ve had since last night.
‘If you abuse anyone on social media you’re not an England fan and we don’t want you.’
England manager Gareth Southgate said the racist abuse aimed at the players was unacceptable.
And Prime Minister Boris Johnson and the Football Association also condemned it.
‘It’s just not what we stand for,’ said Southgate.
‘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 have shown the power our country has when it does come together and has that energy and positivity together.
‘It’s my decision who takes the penalties, it’s not a case of players not volunteering or more experienced players backing out.’