Arsenal manager Mikel Arteta backs 'strong' Bukayo Saka to rise above racist abuse

England midfielder subjected to online abuse following missed penalty in Euro 2020 final

Arsenal manager Mikel Arteta has said Bukayo Saka's "strong character" will help him rise above the racist abuse he has received following England's Euro 2020 final defeat and has called on tougher laws to combat online hate.

Saka, 19, endured vile racist taunts on social media after missing the penalty that sealed Italy's 3-2 shootout victory against England in Sunday's final at Wembley. Marcus Rashford and Jadon Sancho have also received abusive messages after failing to convert their penalties.

Arteta has spoken to Saka since the abuse and is confident he will not be affected.

"Yes, I have. We all have, I think, spoken to him, sent messages," Arteta told Sky Sports. "He will be fine. He is such a strong character.

"He has received a lot of love and support from world football, not only with Arsenal but the national team and all the English fans because he doesn't deserve anything like he has been through."

The racist abuse received by England's players has been met with widespread condemnation. England captain Harry Kane launched an impassioned defence of his three teammates, writing on Twitter they "deserve support and backing not the vile racist abuse they’ve had. If you abuse anyone on social media you’re not an England fan and we don’t want you."

Kane's sentiments have been echoed throughout football and the wider world of sport, while thousands of people have visited a mural of Rashford in his hometown, which had been vandalised, to leave messages of support.

Arteta, speaking after Arsenal's pre-season friendly defeat at Hibernian, called for tougher laws on internet abuse.

"Hopefully we can use this now to make a strong statement and we have to stop racial abuse on social media and people using social media to hide and put people in really bad places," Arteta said.

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

Updated: July 14th 2021, 12:45 PM
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