'He teaches children!!' Marcus Rashford says maths teacher among at least 70 racist messages sent after Europa League final

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Marcus Rashford shows his anguish - REUTERS
Marcus Rashford shows his anguish - REUTERS

Marcus Rashford has described how a maths teacher bombarded him with online racist abuse during Manchester United's Europa League final defeat.

The Manchester United forward said he had been targeted with "at least 70 racial slurs on my social accounts" when he checked immediately after the match.

"For those working to make me feel any worse than I already do, good luck trying," he tweeted after the club's agonising penalty defeat to Spanish underdogs Villarreal.

He added that he was "more outraged that one of the abusers that left a mountain of monkey emojis" in his direct messages was a maths teacher "with an open profile". Rashford, who has spent the past year campaigning against child hunger, wrote: "He teaches children!! And knows that he can freely racially abuse without consequence..."

Players and pundits have vowed in recent weeks to step up a strategy to call out abuse after a boycott led by football recently failed to stop the trolls.

Aston Villa and England defender Tyrone Mings said this week that footballers have only realised their ability to influence public opinion in the year since George Floyd was murdered. England players are set to continue taking the knee at the European Championships.

Seven-time Formula One world champion Lewis Hamilton expressed his support for Rashford and hit out at those who elected to racially abuse him through predominantly anonymous social media accounts. He said on Twitter: "Hiding behind a screen and sharing racist abuse is unforgivable. These people are not real fans, and should be held accountable. Stay strong and stand proud @MarcusRashford, we are all behind you on this."

It is not the first time Rashford has been the victim of abuse on social media. In January, Greater Manchester Police investigated racist comments sent to him and several other players.

Speaking before Wednesday night’s incident, England boss Gareth Southgate praised the job players had done in highlighting abuse over the last year. He told BBC Radio 4’s Today programme: “I do think there has been progress over the last year on the issue of racism because social media is just in general a poor reflection of what happens through society. But the reality is if it wasn’t social media, these situations are happening on our streets at certain times. (The players) have used their voice in a very positive manner, in particularly the last 12 months. We have to keep fighting racism.”

Rashford, meanwhile, having missed a key chance against Villarreal but scored his penalty during the shootout on Wednesday night, spoke frankly about United's defeat.

“We are close, I promise we are close," he said after the match. "But close is not good enough. We have to be there.”