Bukayo Saka, Marcus Rashford and Jadon Sancho were targeted after they missed penalties that decided Euro 2020 final

By Simon Perry
July 12, 2021 09:24 AM
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Prince William
Prince William
| Credit: PAUL ELLIS/POOL/AFP via Getty

Prince William has addressed online racism suffered by England's soccer stars.

Team England players Bukayo Saka, Marcus Rashford and Jadon Sancho were deluged with online attacks after they missed penalty kicks that helped secure Italy's win in the Euro 2020 final on Sunday.

William, 39, who is President of the Football Association that governs the game in England, said in a statement issued on social media: "I am sickened by the racist abuse aimed at England players after last night's match. It is totally unacceptable that players have to endure this abhorrent behaviour. It must stop now and all those involved should be held accountable."

He signed himself "W" to signify that it was a personal message and not something from his office at Kensington Palace.

Prince William and Prince George
Prince George and Prince William
| Credit: Frank Augstein/Pool/Getty Images

William, 39, was at the match with son Prince George, 7, and wife Kate Middleton, 39. The family's euphoria at an early goal that gave England the lead was tempered with sadness by the end as the team fell at the last hurdle by missing the last kick of the contest.

And William praised the victors Italy in a statement at the end of the game. "Heartbreaking. Congratulations @Azzurri on a great victory," he wrote on Instagram. "@England, you've all come so far, but sadly this time it wasn't our day. You can all hold your heads high, and be so proud of yourselves — I know there's more to come. W"

Crushed Saka was consoled by his team mates who ran to him as his kick, the last one of five, was saved by Italian goalie Gianluigi Donnarummer.  

Prince William and Kate Middleton
Prince William and Kate Middleton with Prince George at Wembley on July 11th 2021
| Credit: Frank Augstein/Pool/Getty

Prince Charles and Camilla, Duchess of Cornwall also joined the conversation online on Monday, posting a quote on their official Clarence House platforms from Charles's Windrush Day 2020 speech: "Recognizing the rich diversity of cultures which make this country so special — and in many ways unique — lies at the heart of what we can be as a nation."

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William has regularly warned social media companies that they should be doing more to counter online abuse in all its forms. And in April, he joined a U.K.-wide campaign to stay off the platforms for a weekend to take a stand on the issue.

The boycott, that ran until Monday, May 3, aimed to encourage social media companies to take stronger action against racist and sexist abuse online. "As President of the FA I join the entire football community in the social media boycott this weekend," he said then.

For William and Kate, the game came at the end of a sporting weekend that had seen them at Wimbledon tennis on Saturday, for the women's final, and — for Kate — at the men's final on Sunday. On Friday afternoon, William played polo to raise money for charities that the couple support too.