Bukayo Saka may have been subjected to horrific racist abuse in the aftermath of Sunday night’s missed penalty in the Euro 2020 final but Mikel Arteta has been quick to highlight the support that has also flooded in from the football community.
Left in tears when his saved spot-kick confirmed Italy’s victory at Wembley, the 19-year-old, alongside Marcus Rashford and Jadon Sancho, was instantaneously thrust into the media spotlight as the inquest into the defeat began.
As the players were consoled on the pitch, heartwarming messages from supporters, teammates and rivals drowned out the bile that polluted his social media channels.
“Yes, I have,” he said. “We all have, I think, spoken to him, sent messages.
“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 [what] he has been through.”
“He has had a phenomenal season,” added the boss. “In football, you want to be part of the greatest, you have to know today, at 19, that you lose more than you win unfortunately in this game and there are no exceptions to that rule.”
In a strongly-worded statement, Arsenal condemned the abuse England’s players had received and doubled down on their calls for social media companies to take more responsibility for policing the content posted on their platforms.
Arteta continued the theme: “Hopefully we can use 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.
“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.”