Losing in the knockout stages of UEFA's European Championship is never easy for fans or players alike, and as you might expect, fans of England's football team were absolutely distraught following yesterday's loss to Italy. England went down after losing yet another penalty shootout, thanks to the back-to-back misses by Ashley Young and Ashley Cole, both of which are black.
During the aftermath of the loss, some English fans took to Twitter and stupidly used racial insults aimed at the two Ashley's to express their anguish; and now, as reported by the BBC, it appears as if some of these fans may be facing some criminal charges for their tweets. The pushback was spearheaded by the West Midlands Police force, which also made extensive use of Twitter to counteract these misguided tweets, going as far advise Twitter users who may have been offended by the comments to also file reports.
The following tweet embed contains some of the racist language in question:
The West Midlands Police also responded directly the person who tweeted the racist language, @johnbcfcmillman, informing him of his offense:
@johnbcfcmillman Your comments may constitute a public order offence. We have advised a complainant how to report this officially to police.
Another Twitter user, @Lapwnage, thought he could apologize his way out of the mess he created by tweeting, "All I got to say is this was just a joke, you guys need to relax, police know I was kiddin around and they won’t bother me hopefully, cheers."
The WMP shut that nonsense down in a hurry:
@Lapwnage Wrong. Your comments may constitute a public order offence. We have advised complainants how to officially report this to police.
It should be noted that both @Lapwnage and @johnbcfcmillman's Twitter accounts no longer exist, but the WMP was prepared for that, as well:
@shivamLM We are well aware of this but every online interaction leaves a trace which specialist investigators can identify.
London's Metro Police force as also acknowledged these incidents and is taking the appropriate action:
We are aware of alleged racist comments on Twitter following last night’s England game and have launched an investigation
Last week, I said something about "so much for sports being a unifying force." Unfortunately, thanks to the "it was just a joke" stupidity of a few Twitter users, that adage once again is proven to be suspect. It could be argued, however, that the responses of the fans who issued complaints against these tweets also prove there may be some truth to that statement after all. In other news, how does the notion that Twitter interactions can be considered hate crimes fly in the United States?