Soccer-Arsenal's Arteta speaks up for 'strong character' Saka after racist abuse

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·2-min read
Euro 2020 - Final - Italy v England
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(Reuters) -Arsenal manager Mikel Arteta said winger Bukayo Saka is a "strong character" and backed the teenager to overcome the racist abuse directed at him on social media after his miss in England's shootout defeat by Italy in Sunday's Euro 2020 final.

The 19-year-old missed England's final spot kick after team mates Marcus Rashford, 23, and Jadon Sancho, 21, also failed to convert in the shootout, with all three subsequently subjected to racist abuse online.

The comments prompted a police investigation and brought widespread condemnation.

Arteta told Sky Sports he had spoken to Saka and that was sure that he would be fine.

"He is such a strong character," Arteta added. "He has received a lot of love and support from world football, not only with Arsenal but the national team and the English fans because he doesn't deserve anything like (what) he has been through."

British Prime Minister Boris Johnson held a meeting with social media companies on Tuesday to ask them to do more in the fight against online abuse.

"Hopefully the laws will become stronger. I think we're all going to try and make a strong case out of that," Arteta said. "Hopefully, it can have a big impact because it's the moment to put that right."

An online petition https://www.change.org/p/football-association-and-oliver-dowden-sec-of-state-dcms-pm-boris-johnson-ban-racists-for-life-from-all-football-matches-in-england calling for racist abuse to carry a lifetime ban from England football matches has passed 1 million signatures.

The petition - aimed at Johnson and Secretary of State Oliver Dowden - reads: "As multi-racial football fans, we finally feel represented by this anti-racist and inclusive England team.

"We could not be more proud or inspired by our magnificent team and by their talent, bravery, leadership and love for all. Gareth Southgate's England team plays for ALL of us."

(Reporting by Shrivathsa Sridhar in Bengaluru; Editing by Peter Rutherford)

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