Stop backing us: Kane tells racist fans

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England skipper Harry Kane has described the racial abuse meted out to his team's Black stars as vile and called on those guilty to stop supporting the team.

Marcus Rashford, 23, Jadon Sancho, 21, and Bukayo Saka, 19, have been targets of online racial abuse after missing spot-kicks in the penalty shootout loss to Italy, who won Sunday's final which finished 1-1 in regulation time.

The comments prompted a police investigation and wide condemnation, although critics accused some ministers of hypocrisy for refusing to support a high-profile anti-racist stance the players had made during the tournament.

"Three lads who were brilliant all summer had the courage to step up & take a pen when the stakes were high," England captain Harry Kane wrote on Twitter.

"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 boss Gareth Southgate has labelled the racial abuse as unforgivable.

"I know a lot of that has come from abroad, that people who track those things have been able to explain that, but not all of it," he told a news conference.

Rashford himself wrote in a social media post late on Monday he was thankful to his teammates for the support they extended to him and that he was overwhelmed by the messages of support towards him.

"I can take critique of my performance all day long... but I will never apologise for who I am and where I came from," Rashford said in his statement.

The England team has earned praise for their stand against racism, while a number of players have also campaigned on other social causes. The multi-racial make-up of the squad had been hailed as reflecting a more diverse modern Britain.

The team had highlighted the issue of racism by taking the knee before all their matches, saying it was a simple show of solidarity against racial discrimination.

However, some fans have booed the gesture, with critics viewing it as a politicisation of sport and expression of sympathy with far-left politics.

Some ministers have been accused of hypocrisy for refusing to criticise those who booed and using it as part of a wider "culture war.

"This England team deserve to be lauded as heroes, not racially abused on social media," Prime Minister Boris Johnson wrote on Twitter. "Those responsible for this appalling abuse should be ashamed of themselves."

However, Interior minister Priti Patel did not support players taking the knee because it was "gesture politics" and that it was a choice for the fans whether to boo players.

On Monday, she joined those who denounced the abuse, but was criticised by England defender Tyrone Mings.

"You don't get to stoke the fire at the beginning of the tournament by labelling our anti-racism message as 'Gesture Politics' & then pretend to be disgusted when the very thing we're campaigning against, happens," he posted on Twitter.

A mural of Rashford, who had campaigned for poor children to be given more support during the pandemic, was also covered in abuse.

British ministers, meanwhile, will tell social media companies to immediately hand over details of those who made online racially abusive comments towards the England players.

"We want real-life consequences for the people who are tweeting this abuse," the Times quoted an unidentified government source as saying.

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