A mural honouring footballer Marcus Rashford has been vandalised with graffiti following England’s defeat to Italy in the Euro 2020 final.
The artwork in Withington, Manchester, was defaced shortly after England lost in a penalty shootout on Sunday.
Rashford, along with Jadon Sancho and Bukayo Saka, missed a penalty and was targeted with racist abuse on social media after the game.
Several swear words were daubed across the mural alongside the word “Saka”.
Greater Manchester Police said an investigation had been launched after the force received a report of racially aggravated damage at 02:50 BST.
Appealing for information, Ch Supt Paul Savill said: “Hate crime in any form is completely unacceptable and not welcome here in our city.”
There has been an outpouring of support for Rashford on social media and people have also posted positive messages over the covered-up graffiti on the mural.
The positive messages include “role model”, “wonderful human” and “hero” written on a red heart.
The artwork, based on a photograph by Daniel Cheetham and painted by street artist Akse, was created in collaboration with Withington Walls, a community street art project.
It was commissioned in recognition of Rashford’s work to tackle child food poverty.
The Manchester United forward’s mother provided the quote on the mural, which reads: “Take pride in knowing that your struggle will play the biggest role in your purpose.”
Ed Wellard, who co-founded Withington Walls, said he woke up to the news the mural had been defaced.
“I’ve come out to fix what I could immediately and cover up what I couldn’t and hopefully we will get the artist out to come and fix it,” he said.
“We dared to dream yesterday and our hopes were dashed but to wake up to this is more depressing. Racism seems to be more and more prevalent.”
Greater Manchester Mayor Andy Burnham described the mural defacement as a “despicable, shameful act”.
“We could not be more proud of Marcus Rashford and his role in taking our country to its first major final in 55 years,” he tweeted.
England manager Gareth Southgate said the racist abuse aimed at Rashford, Sancho and Saka was “unforgivable”.
“It’s just not what we stand for,” he said.
Prime Minister Boris Johnson described the abuse of players as “appalling,” adding the team deserved “to be lauded as heroes, not racially abused on social media”.
“Those responsible for this appalling abuse should be ashamed of themselves,” he said.
The FA also said it was “appalled” by the targeting of the three players following the defeat at Wembley.
Rashford has previously spoken out about receiving racist abuse on social media following Manchester United’s Europa League final defeat – also on penalties – to Villarreal.
Tweeting in May, he said he had counted “at least 70 racial slurs on my social accounts”.