Gary Neville knew that reprehensible racist abuse would follow when Marcus Rashford, Jadron Sancho and Bukayo Saka - three young black players - missed crucial penalties in England's Euro 2020 final shootout defeat to Italy on Sunday night.
Neville believes blame for the abuse should begin with the Prime Minister, Boris Johnson.
"I’ve just reading your breaking news and it says ‘The PM condemns racist abuse of England players'," Neville told Sky News.
"Is that the same Prime Minister that a few weeks ago...
"Gareth Southgate and the players a few weeks ago, for about five days on the trot, told us that they were taking the knee to promote equality, and it was against racism. The Prime Minister said that it was OK for the population of this country to boo those players who were trying to promote equality and defend against racism.
"It starts at the very top. I was not surprised in the slightest to wake up to those headlines. I expected it the minute that three players that missed, missed.
"There is an issue in football and society where we feel it is acceptable, basically, to criticise players for sporting actions because of the colour of their skin.
"Accepting and validating that players who take the knee are promoting equality and inclusion, and defending against racism, it [needs to come] from the top.
"You know full well that if your parents do something, your children will follow.”
"It starts at the very top."
Former footballer @GNev2 says has called on Boris Johnson to take a tougher stance on racism in football after some England players received abuse online following last night's clash with Italy.#Euro2020: https://t.co/KUBv2VLGWI pic.twitter.com/VoJPtslaaP
— Sky News (@SkyNews) July 12, 2021
Neville added that there should be consequences for people who abuse players on social media.
"I am not saying that each individual who has directed that abuse towards the players shouldn’t take accountability, they absolutely should," said Neville.
"So should the social media companies. The social media companies have to come down harder on racist abuse.
"I think we have to start to isolate these individuals who are attacking players in a racist manner, and isolate them by writing to their employers, so that ultimately there is total accountability, and there is consequence."