Marcus Rashford has detailed the nature of some of the latest torrent of racist messages he has received on social media.
Police are investigating after the England forward said he had received “at least 70 racial slurs” in the immediate aftermath of Manchester United’s Europa League final loss to Villarreal in Gdansk on Wednesday night.
The 23-year-old says he can accept criticism of his performance but not the racist “ape, monkey, baboon, banana, jungle talk”.
Rashford has also revealed that one abusive message came from a person claiming to be a maths teacher.
What did Marcus Rashford say?
In a statement posted on Twitter, Rashford wrote: “I’d be the first to say I’ve struggled this season. It’s not about commitment, dedication or ability.
“The reality is I’ve had physical obstacles I’ve had to overcome that I’m still managing. That being said, there are no excuses for last night, we simply weren’t good enough. I’m really sorry that we couldn’t bring the silverware home.
“But black or white, football is football. We all wear the same shirt. We all kick the same ball.
“I’ve been playing this game from the day I could walk. I’m built for criticism of my performance but I can’t accept the ape, monkey, baboon, banana, jungle talk.
“As a United fan myself, it’s really difficult stuff to read. And I can only think about how this would have made me feel as a seven-year-old reading it. How would I ever have any faith in humanity?”
Rashford had a disappointing game in Gdansk but spoke passionately to television afterwards about his and United’s determination to bounce back.
It was soon after that he tweeted to reveal he had been subjected to racial abuse online.
He wrote: “At least 70 racial slurs on my social accounts counted so far. For those working to make me feel any worse than I already do, good luck trying.
“I’m more outraged that one of the abusers that left a mountain of monkey emojis in my DM is a maths teacher with an open profile. He teaches children!! And knows that he can freely racially abuse without consequence…”
How Manchester United and others have responded
In a statement, United said they were “disgusted by the online hate and abuse aimed at Marcus Rashford and other players on social media after last night’s game” and that they “utterly condemn it”.
Greater Manchester Police confirmed on Thursday the abuse was being investigated.
Assistant chief constable Chris Sykes said: “We are aware of a number of racially aggravated social media posts made yesterday evening towards numerous Manchester United players.
“We are working through the posts from yesterday, which originate from countries across the world as well as the UK, to investigate these crimes. Tackling hate crime remains a priority for GMP. We take these reports very seriously and are working with our partners to ensure those responsible are identified.
“Nobody should be subject to hateful language and abuse and it is deeply upsetting not only to those who receive these comments, but to anyone who witnesses it on a public forum.
“Those who make these posts subject themselves, not just to criminal proceedings but to long-term implications to their personal and professional lives by making these comments.”
Show Racism the Red Card’s honorary president Shaka Hislop condemned the abuse.
The former Newcastle goalkeeper told the PA news agency: “This latest incident further exemplifies the need for meaningful and strong action in heeding the global call for battling racism, that many of us contributed to, and all of us witnessed over the last year.
“Without firm action our football grounds will become safe havens and breeding grounds for the worst aspects of our humanity.
“Football, as a game, has to match the work and example of players like Marcus Rashford in shaping a better, more inclusive, more equitable world, for the next generation of players and fans.”
The latest incidents come after English football, along with other sporting bodies, united for a four-day social media boycott to urge companies to take a stronger stance over racial abuse on their platforms.
A tweet from the players’ union, the Professional Footballers’ Association, read: “Solidarity with @MarcusRashford and all players facing abhorrent racist abuse. Social media companies are still not doing enough to protect players. The government’s Online Safety Bill must be enacted as soon as possible so they can be held to account.”