Portsmouth have confirmed that three players have been released from the club’s academy following an investigation into discriminatory messages sent in an under-18s group chat on the back of England’s Euro 2020 defeat to Italy.
The investigation began earlier this month after messages containing discriminatory comments aimed towards Arsenal’s Bukayo Saka, and Three Lions teammates Marcus Rashford and Jadon Sancho, were leaked on social media after the penalty loss at Wembley.
In a statement, Pompey confirmed that three players have been released due to their involvement in the incident.
A club statement read: “Portsmouth Football Club can confirm that the investigation – and subsequent disciplinary process – into discriminatory messages that originated from an academy U18 private group chat has now concluded.
“We can confirm that a decision has been made today (July 28) to release three players from the academy. These players do have the right to appeal the club’s decision.
“Portsmouth Football Club are fully committed to the elimination of all forms of discrimination.
“We are part of a diverse community and are dedicated to promoting an environment of equality and inclusion at all times – both inside the football club and in our wider society.
“We also continue to respectfully appeal for everyone’s consideration in their use of social media posts directed towards any of the club’s employees and any other external parties.”
Saka broke his silence on the social media abuse four days after the final, with a powerful message to his followers.
“I have stayed away from social media for a few days to spend time with my family and reflect on the last few weeks,” he said on Twitter.
“This message won’t do it justice, how grateful I am for all the love that I have received, and I feel that I need to thank everyone who has supported me.
“There are no words to tell you how disappointed I was with the result and my penalty. I really believed we would win this for you. I’m sorry that we couldn’t bring it home for you this year, but I promise you that we will give everything we’ve got to make sure this generation knows how it feels to win.
“To the social media platforms Instagram, Twitter and Facebook, I don’t want any child or adult to have to receive the hateful and hurtful messages that me, Marcus, and Jadon have received this week.
“I knew instantly the kind of hate that I was about to receive and that is a sad reality of that your powerful platforms are not doing enough to stop these messages.
“There is no place for racism or hate of any kind in football or in any area of society and to the majority of people coming together to call out the people sending these messages, by taking action and reporting these comments to the police and by driving out the hate by being kind to one another, we will win.
“Love always wins.”
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