British Prime Minister Boris Johnson vowed Wednesday to enact measures to protect British professional soccer players from online abuse.
Punishment for someone found guilty of such abuse could include banishment from games.
The move comes after online abuse, some of it racist, was directed at three Black players for the English national team who missed their penalty shots in the Euro 2020 final shootout on Sunday, leading to an Italian win.
According to the Guardian newspaper, an analysis of 585,000 social media posts directed at the English team during the entire Euro 2020 tournament found that 44 messages were explicitly racist. More than 2,000 were "abusive."
"I do think that racism is a problem in the United Kingdom, and I believe it needs to be tackled. And it needs to be stamped out with some of the means that I've described this morning," Johnson told Parliament as he announced his plan.
"I repeat that I utterly condemn and abhor the racist outpourings that we saw on Sunday night. And so, what we're doing today is taking practical steps to ensure that the football banning order regime is changed, so that if you are guilty of racist abuse online of footballers, then you will not be going to the match — no ifs, no buts, no exemptions and no excuses," he added.
But it's unclear how much of the online abuse actually comes from the U.K. The Daily Mail reported that the Premier League, the top division of professional soccer in England, found that roughly 70% of online abuse directed at British professional soccer players comes from outside the U.K.
According to Yahoo News, the Greater Manchester Police said they had arrested a man Wednesday for social media posts directed at players for England's national team.
Johnson added that in addition to going after internet trolls, his government would potentially fine social media companies if they failed to quickly remove offensive content.
"Last night, I met representatives of Facebook, of Twitter, of TikTok, of Snapchat, of Instagram, and I made it absolutely clear to them that we will legislate to address this problem in the Online Harms Bill. And unless they get hate and racism off their platforms, they will face fines amounting to 10% of their global revenues," Johnson said.
Some information in this report comes from Reuters.