A FOUNDATION in Darlington dedicated to the first professional black footballer was vandalised with racist graffiti.

The Arthur Wharton Foundation on Widdowfield Street, in Darlington, was defaced with racism which has since been removed.

The Northern Echo:

Arthur Wharton was the first black professional footballer in the world - he played as a goalkeeper for Darlington.

The vandalism comes after Marcus Rashford, Jadon Sancho and Bukayo Saka all received online racist abuse after missing penalties in the Euro 2020 final defeat to Italy.

One of the messages sprayed onto the wall read 'we do not stand with the 3 Black Lions.'

Hundreds of people have taken to social media to condemn the graffiti.

Darlington MP Peter Gibson said: "The Arthur Wharton Foundation has done much to promote understanding of the contribution of black footballers throughout our history.

The Northern Echo:

Picture: TOM BANKS

"I am appalled by the vandalism, and the racism of that has been daubed on the murals.

"Our town is an open welcoming place to all people. Those responsible for this graffiti should be identified and punished.

"If you have information please contact the police on 101 or contact Crimestoppers anonymously."

A spokeswoman for Durham Constabulary said: “Officers are investigating following reports of damage to the Arthur Wharton mural, in Darlington, overnight on Friday, July 16.

“Enquiries are ongoing.

“Anyone with any information is asked to contact Durham Constabulary on 101, quoting incident reference 129 of July 17.”

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