An internet troll who subjected Bukayo Saka to racist abuse after the England footballer missed the decisive penalty in the Euro 2020 final shootout defeat to Italy has apologised after being tracked down on social media by journalists.
The man, who is in his early 20s from Saudi Arabia, posted racist emojis on 20-year-old Saka’s Instagram account shortly after the match and was approached by the team at BBC Radio 4’s documentary programme File on 4.
The man’s account was still online six weeks after the game despite being reported and despite widespread coverage of the racist abuse, which was also aimed at two other black England players, Marcus Rashford and Jadon Sancho.
The BBC’s File on 4 said his was one of 79 Instagram accounts that remained online despite being reported.
Speaking to the reporters, the unidentified man said: “It was a big mistake, I was angry, and I didn’t know what, if he saw the monkeys, what he would feel,” he said.
“I really want to apologise to Saka, it was a mistake and I will not do it again for him and any black player.”
But the apology was received with scepticism by players who have experienced abuse.
The former Manchester City player Nedum Onuoha told File on 4: “It’s so toxic, that’s how social media feels to me, this type of thing goes on with people who don’t necessarily think about their consequences.”
The troll tells the programme that he accepts he should be “banned for life” but Onuoha said he did not accept the man’s contrition.
“You’re the same person who went to Bukayo Saka’s Instagram account and put a monkey emoji in a comment for one of his posts. I understand disappointment … but for me it crosses a line, and it’s wrong on every level.”
The troll’s account was initially suspended for 24 hours, but after Instagram was approached by File on 4, a number of accounts were removed.
The platform told the programme it was committed to holding to account people who racially abuse others.