image sourceGetty Imagesimage captionEngland forward Bukayo Saka was one of three players to receive racist abuse after missing a penalty at Euro 2020

The BBC's File on 4 programme has been investigating online racism within football to try to find out why such abuse was sent to England's players after the Euro 2020 final.

The programme approached a number of these trolls, and one man who racially abused Bukayo Saka online says he now wants to apologise.

Saka, Marcus Rashford and Jadon Sancho all received a torrent of racist abuse online after missing penalties in the final.

One troll – a man in his early twenties from Saudi Arabia – sent Saka a number of monkey emojis on Instagram.

His Instagram account was suspended for 24 hours as a result, but says now he should have been banned from social media for longer.

He agreed to speak to File on 4 when he was confronted about his actions.

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He says he had been supporting England during the final and was "angry" when the team lost on penalties.

He also admits he knew what he was doing was racist: "It was a big mistake. I was angry and I didn't know when Saka saw the monkey what he would feel. I saw other people were typing the same emoji and I went with them.

"I really want to apologise to Saka, it was a mistake and I will not do it again to him or any black player."

The troll revealed his account was temporarily suspended by Instagram for 24 hours after the post was reported to the platform.

But he says he now believes he should have been banned "forever" because his post was "really racist".

image sourceGetty Imagesimage captionEngland players have defied boos to take a knee before matches as an anti-racist gesture

Former Manchester City defender Nedum Onuoha – an outspoken commentator on football and racism – said he thought the troll's words were hollow.

"Where he says, 'I should be banned for life,' it feels like he's saying that because he thinks that's the right thing to say," Onuoha told the BBC.

"He went to Bukayo Saka's Instagram account and put a monkey emoji in a comment for one of his posts when he didn't have to, but did it because everyone else was doing it.

"He probably thought everyone else was as angry as he was. I understand disappointment but anger is where for me it crosses a line, because it makes people behave in ways like this, which I think is just wrong on every level."

Racist accounts still online

The troll's account was one of 105 reported to Instagram in the wake of the the Euro final, but File on 4 found 79 of these were still up online more than six weeks on.

Callum Hood, from the Centre for Countering Digital Hate, who helped carry out the research, said he believed the findings showed a lack of desire by social media companies to deal with the problem of online racism.

"Instagram itself had said earlier in the year it would ban accounts that send racial abuse to footballers, so they're clearly not delivering on that promise," he said.

"We're talking about people using the N-word to abuse footballers, people posting monkey emojis, telling people to go home.

"Social media platforms have their own standards which say they don't allow racism, that there's no place for it on their platforms, but their actions show they don't care about it enough to actually deal with the problem."

Instagram said it had removed a number of accounts and comments from the platform for breaking the rules as a result of File on 4's investigation.

image sourceGetty Imagesimage captionEngland said racist abuse players received from opposition fans in Hungary was "completely unacceptable"

It said users who violated its rules on hate speech might not necessarily lose their accounts immediately, but such content would be removed.

The company also said it had rolled out a number of safety features which helped stop people seeing abuse in their comments and direct messages.

Police looking into the online abuse that followed the final say more than half of the 396 posts being investigated are from accounts overseas, with most coming out of Asia and Europe.

So far 12 people have been arrested in the UK and one person has been charged.

In a separate development, Fifa opened disciplinary proceedings after racist abuse was aimed at England players by Hungary fans during Thursday's 4-0 win in Budapest.

'Sick of the platitudes'

Tony Burnett, CEO of football's biggest anti-racism campaign group, Kick It Out, believes social media platforms need to take more responsibility for the racist abuse directed at England's players during the final.

"I'm sick of hearing the platitudes. I was at the final and when the penalty was missed, we knew exactly what was going to happen.

"If we knew, then the social media organisations should have known what was going to happen and they should have done more to protect those young men that stepped up bravely to take our penalties."

You can listen to File on 4: Tackling Online Abuse in Football on Radio 4 on Tuesday 7 September at 20:00 BST, and then afterwards on BBC Sounds.