The U.K. was “by far” the largest country of origin for abusive, racist tweets sent to England’s soccer players last month after the team lost the European Championship final to Italy, Twitter said Tuesday.
Twitter also said that 99 percent of accounts suspended for sending racist abuse during the tournament were not anonymous, so the type of ID verification called for by some British politicians would have been “unlikely to prevent the abuse from happening.”
Twitter’s findings contradict post-tournament comments by England manager Gareth Southgate, who said that a lot of the abuse, which targeted Black players including Marcus Rashford, Bukayo Saka and Jadon Sancho, came from outside the U.K.
Southgate described the abuse, which came after those players missed penalty shots during a shootout tiebreaker in the final, as “unforgivable” but added that “a lot of that has come from abroad.”
His words echoed findings released in March by the Premier League, which has monitored online attacks on players, staff members and officials since 2019, showing that 70 percent of the abuse typically came from outside the U.K.
According to the social media company’s review of what happened in the aftermath of the final, outlined in a blog post, 2,087 racist tweets were removed by July 14 (three days after the final), the vast majority by Twitter’s automated tools for detecting abuse.
“We are determined to do all we can to stop these abhorrent views and behaviors from being seen on our platform,” Twitter said in the blog post. “We can do better.”
Eleven people have been arrested so far in connection with online racist abuse of England’s soccer players after the July 11 final at Wembley Stadium in London for offenses that include malicious communications, the U.K. Football Policing Unit announced Thursday.