Prince William says he has been left "sickened" after several England players were racially abused by their own fans in the wake of the heartbreaking penalty shootout defeat to Italy in the final of Euro 2020.
With the scores locked at 1-1 after extra time it was a familiar spot-kick outcome for England as Italy won 3-2 on penalties.
'SHOULD BE FIRED': England fans fume over Euro final 'disgrace'
Marcus Rashford and 21-year-old Jadon Sancho - brought on late in extra time seemingly as specialist penalty-takers - both failed to convert before Gianluigi Donnarumma, Italy's imposing goalkeeper, dived to his left and saved the decisive spot kick by 19-year-old Arsenal midfielder Bukayo Saka.
To compound the pain of defeat, the trio of youngsters who missed their spot-kicks were then subjected to vile racist abuse from England fans on social media afterwards.
Prince William - the president of England's FA who was at Wembley with his wife Kate and son George - has led the outcry against the racist abuse of players, labelling it "totally unacceptable".
British Prime Minister Boris Johnson also weighed in on the disgusting controversy, insisting England's players should be hailed as heroes, not racially vilified.
“This England team deserve to be lauded as heroes, not racially abused on social media,” UK PM Boris Johnson said
“Those responsible for this appalling abuse should be ashamed of themselves.”
England manager Gareth Southgate labelled the reality of players being abused by their own fans as "unforgivable".
"Some of it has come from abroad, we have been told this, but some of it is from this country," he told reporters.
"We have been a beacon of light to bring people together and the national team stands for everybody."
England players Rashford, Sancho and Saka were victims of a stream of abuse on Instagram and Twitter - many apparently from foreign trolls and bots.
While some people identifying as England fans used racial slurs in blaming the trio for the defeat, other offensive messages were accompanied with "forza italia" hashtags.
Johnson said the team had "made history" and "brought joy to this country".
"To those who have been directing racist abuse at some of the players, I say shame on you and I hope you will crawl back under the rock from which you emerged," he told a news conference.
England's players have made a strong stand against racism at the tournament, taking a knee before their games including the final.
Police investigating several incidents
London's police force said it was aware of "a number of offensive and racist social media comments", promising an investigation.
The Metropolitan Police also said it was probing scenes of mayhem after some ticketless fans forced their way into Wembley Stadium.
Greater Manchester Police in northwest England said they were treating as a racist incident the defacement of a mural in the city in honour of Rashford.
Obscenities and Saka's name were daubed over the artwork.
England player Raheem Sterling also received a stream of racial abuse after social media users accused him of cheating to win a penalty in England's semi-final win over Denmark.
European football's governing body UEFA said it "strongly condemns the disgusting racist abuse" and that "we stand by the players and the English FA's call for the strongest possible punishments".
The Football Association said: "We're disgusted that some of our squad –- who have given everything for the shirt this summer –- have been subjected to discriminatory abuse online after tonight's game.
"We stand with our players."
But the overwhelming majority of messages were in support of the players, who have been praised throughout the tournament for helping bring together a nation hard hit by the coronavirus pandemic.
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