Soccer-FA to fund police unit to combat online abuse of England players, says CEO

FILE PHOTO: Soccer Football - Euro 2020 - England Press Conference - St. George's Park, Burton Upon Trent, Britain - June 25, 2021 FA chief executive officer Mark Bullingham during the press conference Pool via REUTERS/Nick Potts/File Photo

(Reuters) - The Football Association (FA) will provide funding to the police to aid in the prosecution of individuals who abuse England's players on social media, the governing body's CEO Mark Bullingham said ahead of the European Championship.

Bukayo Saka, Marcus Rashford and Jadon Sancho were targets of online abuse after they missed spot-kicks in a 3-2 shootout loss to Italy in the final of the previous edition of the tournament.

In 2022, a British teenager was sentenced to six weeks in prison for racially abusing Rashford after the final, while a man who livestreamed himself racially abusing the trio on Facebook was jailed for 10 weeks.

"In the past what we did was put together all the data, effectively an evidence pack, to give to the police to prosecute," Bullingham told British media.

"But this time we have gone a stage further where we are actually funding a unit within the British police that will then prosecute."

Bullingham said the funding would cost the FA around 25,000 pounds ($31,952), but added that the figure could change depending on the number of prosecutions.

England kick off their Group C campaign against Serbia on Sunday, followed by matches against Denmark on June 20 and Slovenia on June 25.

($1 = 0.7824 pounds)

(Reporting by Aadi Nair in Bengaluru; Editing by Peter Rutherford)

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