Hartlepool man arrested following 'vulgar' racist abuse aimed at Premier League football player
A 29-year-old from Hartlepool is among eight men arrested in connection with a torrent of online racist abuse directed at a Spurs footballer.
In total 12 men have been arrested or interviewed under caution under suspicion of using words or behaviour or displaying written material with intent to stir up racial hatred.
An investigation by Met Police was launched following the Tottenham Hotspur versus Manchester United match on Sunday, April 11.
During the match, a Tottenham player was targeted with a series of highly offensive and racist remarks on Twitter.
The recent police action, which occurred over the past two weeks, culminated on Thursday evening with a man being visited by the Met at his Greater Manchester home address.
A 29-year-old man from Hartlepool has also been arrested in connection with the abuse. He had since been released under investigation.
The player’s identity has not been revealed.
Detective Sergeant Matt Simpson, from the Met’s public order crime team, said: “This action makes it abundantly clear that police will not stand for racist thuggery, even if it is committed online.
"The posts, all of which were on Twitter, were vulgar and were utterly unacceptable.
"There is no safe haven for this type of abusive behaviour and we are committed to taking decisive action to root it out.”
The abuse was initially detected via Manchester United’s online reporting tool and was then flagged to police in Manchester.
Officers from the Met – which led the investigation and liaised with police forces nationally and social media companies – travelled across the country to conduct arrests and interview suspects.
Chief Constable Mark Roberts, National Police Chiefs’ Council football policing lead, added: “By taking action, it hopefully gets the message across to offenders that you cannot hide and increasingly we will see more arrests as forces, the UK Football Policing Unit and wider football bodies coordinate their efforts.
Tony Burnett, chief executive of anti-racism campaign group Kick It Out, said: "Social media has become a vehicle for inappropriate behaviour on a societal level and certain people think it’s okay to send abusive messages. We have to make sure we create an environment where online abuse is punished and that the perpetrators are identified as much as possible."
Officers continue to identify further possible offences linked to this match.