Estate agent Savills has launched an investigation after a manager allegedly posted a racist tweet following England’s Euro final defeat to Italy.
The personal account – held by a Savills employee who since been suspended by the firm – also allegedly joked about domestic violence.
Savills has said the employee claimed his Twitter account was taken over by a third party and Greater Manchester Police are investigating.
However, it has been reported that further social media posts associated with the manager posted on a platform called Picofru appear to have racist and misogynistic content.
The employee has deleted his personal Twitter account but screenshots of the comment were circulated on social media platforms with members of the public demanding Savills issue a response.
A spokesperson for Savills said the firm was investigating the Twitter messages.
“Savills abhors and has zero tolerance to any form of racism and racial discrimination and is appalled by the racist comments in these tweets,” the estate agent said.
“Savills is immediately investigating and will take appropriate action.”
Prime minister Boris Johnson and the FA are among the many to have condemned so-called England fans who subjected Bukayo Saka, Marcus Rashford and Jadon Sancho with online abuse after they missed their penalties during Sunday’s match.
Johnson said: “This England team deserve to be lauded as heroes, not racially abused on social media.
“Those responsible for this appalling abuse should be ashamed of themselves.”
However, former England footballer and Sky football commentator Gary Neville implied the prime minister was partly responsible for a climate in which people felt they could abuse footballers on race grounds. “They are poles apart,” he said when asked about Southgate’s leadership compared with the prime minister’s. Johnson, Neville recalled, “said Muslim women looked like letterboxes”.
Conservative MP Natalie Elphicke and Conservative activist Darren Grimes also criticised Rashford, saying the 23-year old should spend more time practising his football skills and less time getting involved in politics. Rashford last year campaigned for poorer children to receive free meals during school holidays.
Elphicke, who made the comment to an internal Conservative MPs’ group a member of which then leaked it, publicly wrote: “Last night I shared the frustration and heartbreak of millions of England fans. The team gave their all. Congratulations and onwards to the World Cup!”
— Savills (@Savills) July 12, 2021
But to the Conservative group she said “would it be ungenerous to suggest that Rashford should have spent more time perfecting his game and less time playing politics”. She has since apologised.
In a statement the FA said: “We could not be clearer that anyone behind such disgusting behaviour is not welcome in following the team.
“We will do all we can to support the players affected while urging the toughest punishments possible for anyone responsible.
“We will continue to do everything we can to stamp discrimination out of the game, but we implore government to act quickly and bring in the appropriate legislation so this abuse has real life consequences.
“Social media companies need to step up and take accountability and action to ban abusers from their platforms, gather evidence that can lead to prosecution and support making their platforms free from this type of abhorrent abuse.”
It has now emerged that the employee is claiming that his Twitter account had been taken over by someone else, which Savills is investigating.
Employers find themselves in a delicate position when it comes to employees’ social media messages. Controversial opinions have seen staff dismissed in recent years even if not in the hate crime category, which racist abuse clearly is.
Beverley Sutherland, a director of Crossland Solicitors, recently told Personnel Today, that employers should have “very clear policies outlining what is and is not acceptable, and ensure that an employee’s opinion is properly characterised”.
She added: “If an employee, contrary to this policy, vocalises views which causes offence to others or brings the employer into disrepute, they should be disciplined.”