Three under-18 Portsmouth FC Academy players released after racist Snapchat messages probe

POMPEY have been praised for sending a ‘strong signal’ after releasing three under-18s from its academy side following a probe into racist Snapchat messages.

Wednesday, 28th July 2021, 8:00 pm
GV of Portsmouth Football Club, Fratton Park, Portsmouth in September 2020. Picture: Habibur Rahman

Vulgar comments made in the academy group chat, seen by The News, mentioned lynching, death threats and bomb threats against three young England players who failed to score at Wembley.

Today the League One side confirmed it has made a decision to ‘release three players from the academy’.

The move has been welcomed as sending a strong signal to the footballing world that racism will see ‘real action’.

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Vincent Pericard, who played for the Blues between 2002-2006, said: ‘This is a strong signal that there will be zero tolerance around racism and any form of discrimination.

‘Portsmouth Football Club is really showing the right example.

‘They've shown the right process in the investigation, keeping it transparent and now, based on the investigation, can apply the full force of the law, which is to release the players.

‘I'm very proud of the club, I think it’s a great example of how it should be conducted from start to finish.

‘I hope this sends a strong signal to the whole football industry and wider than that, that there's actually some real action and outcome to anyone that doesn't play the fair game or treat their peers with equality and inclusion.’

England players Marcus Rashford, Jadon Sancho and Bukayo Saka were under intense pressure to score penalties against Italy in the Euro 2020 final – but faced racist abuse when they did not.

In the days that followed, racist messages that originated from the Pompey under-18 social media chat were shared online and sparked a police and club investigation.

Officers from Hampshire police said they were investigating the hate incident.

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Alexandra Ruddock, co-leader of Portsmouth’s Black Lives Matter group, said releasing the players was a ‘strong but absolutely necessary’ decision, adding their behaviour ‘should not be accepted’.

The 28-year-old Milton resident said: ‘Racism will not be tolerated within the football club and for me living in Portsmouth it’s important that Portsmouth businesses and organisations follow strict policies in respect of t hat because it sets a tone to others to follow suit.

‘It’s really refreshing to hear that it’s taken seriously, especially within football where it feels like it’s kind of allowed to carry on for a lot of time.

‘It’s important for me and Portsmouth, especially the city that I represent and represents me, that we are taking a stand on racism and not accepting it and there are strong consequences.’

She added: ‘It builds a lot more faith in the human race, that things will be done in the future.’

Pompey launched disciplinary proceedings against three players last week.

All its under-18 side, regardless of their involvement, had been suspended during a probe. Those not involved are back training.

The released players, who have not been named by Pompey, have the right to appeal against being released.

A Pompey spokesman said: ‘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.’

The torrent of abuse against the England stars rippled out across the country, and left members of Portsmouth’s Black Lives Matter group fearful to leave their homes.

A Havant and Waterlooville Football Club volunteer was ditched by the sixth tier side after posting offensive comments about the black players.

A message from the Editor, Mark Waldron

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