Gwen Berry is speaking out in defense of the the England soccer stars targeted in racially-charged social media posts following a loss to Italy at the European Championship.
The U.S. Olympian hammer thrower recently made headlines for turning her back to the flag during the Olympic trials.
“Heartbreaking situation! Why am I not surprised!,” Berry tweeted Monday above an article about the online abuse.
“This hate is the reason why athletes cannot ‘just be athletes.’ We must stand against these social issues until they no longer affect our lives!,” Berry continued, before “sending my love” to Marcus Rashford, 23, Jadon Sancho, 21, Bukayo Saka, 19, and their families.
In a followup tweet, Berry added, “They only love us when it benefits them.”
The three Black soccer players were the targets of racist messaging online after missing penalty kicks for England in a shootout — following a 1-1 tie — against Italy at the Euro Championship on Sunday night. The team took a knee before the match in protest of the ongoing fight against racial inequality and social injustice.
The social media acts elicited responses from the English Football Association, as well as Prince William, denouncing the lewd language launched at the England players.
“The FA strongly condemns all forms of discrimination and is appalled by the online racism that has been aimed at some of our England players on social media,” the statement said in part.
“We could not be clearer that anyone behind such disgusting behaviour is not welcome in following the team. We will do all we can to support the players affected while urging the toughest punishments possible for anyone responsible.”
The Duke of Cambridge released the following statement on Twitter:
“I am sickened by the racist abuse aimed at England players after last night’s match. It is totally unacceptable that players have to endure this abhorrent behaviour. It must stop now and all those involved should be held accountable. W.”
The England team also tweeted a statement condemning the abuse directed at its players on social media.
“We’re disgusted that some of our squad – who have given everything for the shirt this summer – have been subjected to discriminatory abuse online after tonight’s game,” the team tweeted, via AP.
Twitter revealed in a statement that it removed over 1,000 tweets and suspended a number of accounts following the “abhorrent” racist abuse directed at the England players.
London’s Metropolitan Police said it was investigating “offensive and racist” messages on social media.