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Police hunting down fans who sent racist abuse online against black soccer players on England team

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Photo by Shaun Botterill - UEFA/UEFA via Getty Images

British police said they are hunting down soccer fans who posted racial taunts online against the three black players on England's soccer team after its loss to Italy in the European Championship game on Sunday.

The game ended regulation time with a 1-1 tie and went to penalty shots. But the three black players were unable to score for England and Italy won the shootout 3-2.

Some fans took to social media to assail the players — Marcus Rashford, Jadon Sancho and Bukayo Saka — with racist epithets. A mural of Rashford was also defaced with graffiti.

England coach Gareth Southgate responded by calling the insults "unforgivable," and said it was against the spirit of the team.

Prince William, who is the president of the English Football Association, denounced the racism in a tweet after the match.

"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," he wrote.

"It must stop now and all those involved should be held accountable," he added.

Facebook said in a statement that it tried to remove comments from its platform and Instagram, which it owns.

"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," said the company in a statement.

Twitter similarly said that they had suspended accounts who had sent offensive comments about the players and deleted more than a thousand such tweets.

"We will continue to take action," the company said in a statement, "when we identify any tweets or accounts that violate our policies."

Supporters of Rashford covered up the graffiti on his mural with messages of support. Rashford has been involved in a campaign against child poverty, and convinced the British government to restore free lunches for thousands of poor children.

England has not won a major soccer tournament since the 1966 World Cup.

Here's more about the racial response to the loss:

English soccer players subject to racist online abuse www.youtube.com

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