British Police confirmed the arrest of four people suspected of racially abusing three Black members of the England national team on social media—Marcus Rashford, Jadon Sancho and Bukayo Saka—following a loss to Italy in the Euro 2020 final on Sunday.
Michael Holden of Reuters reported Thursday the UK Football Policing Unit has also launched a hate crime investigation into the matter.
"We are working very closely with social media platforms, who are providing data we need to progress enquiries," Chief Constable Mark Roberts said. "If we identify that you are behind this crime, we will track you down and you will face the serious consequences of your shameful actions."
The British government has also urged the most well-known social media companies (Facebook, Instagram and Twitter) to remove the hateful material more quickly or face government action, per Holden.
England took a 1-0 lead in the Euro 2020 championship match on a second-minute goal by Luke Shaw. Leonardo Bonucci leveled the fixture for Italy in the second half, and then the Azzurri won the penalty shootout 3-2 to win the tournament for the first time since 1968.
Rashford, Sancho and Saka missed their penalties, which led to the online abuse.
The English players had been taking a knee before the opening kickoff of their matches throughout the tournament as a protest against racism.
Rashford posted a statement on Twitter after people left messages of support on a mural featuring his image after it had been vandalized with racist abuse:
UK Prime Minister Boris Johnson condemned the social-media attacks:
The Three Lions were seeking their first major title since the 1966 FIFA World Cup.
England returns to action in early September for three 2022 World Cup qualifiers, beginning with a Sept. 2 away match against Hungary.