Police say graffiti daubed on a Marcus Rashford mural in Manchester is “not believed” to be racist – but they are still keeping an “open mind” about the motive.
The painting was defaced after England’s Euro 2020 final loss to Italy, in which the Manchester United ace missed a penalty.
The blue lettering had been difficult to make out over the black and white image of Rashford, which is located in Withington, Manchester.
The words “sh**e” and “b*****d” could be seen, along with the outline of a penis, reports the Manchester Evening News.
Elsewhere on the wall it said “f**k Sancho”, a reference to Rashford’s England teammate Jadon Sancho.
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Greater Manchester Police said officers were called to the scene at around 2.50am on Monday to reports of “racially-aggravated damage of a mural on Copson Street in Withington”.
And in a statement on Thursday, the force said: “The damage was removed and the mural was restored by its artist in the following days, as an investigation was launched by detectives from our City of Manchester South division.
“While the content of the vandalism is not believed to be of a racial nature, officers are keeping an open mind as to the motive behind the defacing the artwork.
“Investigators have been conducting several lines of enquiry including CCTV and forensic evidence from the spray paint used, results for which are expected to be returned in the coming weeks.
“No arrests have been made and we continue to appeal to members of the public for any information they may have from Sunday night into Monday morning.”
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Officers are now analysing CCTV and forensic evidence from the spray paint used but no arrests have been made.
Superintendent Richard Timson said members of the force were “left appalled” by the damage to the mural.
He said: “On Monday morning when we saw the damage done to the mural in Withington we were all left appalled, and we stand with the rest of the community whose solidarity against this vile abuse ever since has really shown the best of our city.
“The person responsible for this knows who they are and we believe there will be others who also suspect the identity of this offender, and I therefore urge anyone with such information to get in touch to help progress our enquiries at speed.”
Rashford was one of three England players who missed their penalties as England lost a shoot-out 3-2 after drawing the game 1-1.
The star and his teammates Bukayo Saka and Jadon Sancho all suffered online abuse afterwards.
In the hours that followed street artist Akse – who created the work to celebrate Rashford’s campaigning work on school dinners – re-sprayed and repaired the wall.
In recent days it has been almost completely filled with notes, messages, poems, shirts, scarves, flags, and handwritten messages of support and love for Rashford.
Before moving to Wythenshawe, Rashford lived with his mum Mel and four siblings in both Withington and Fallowfield.
Hundreds of people gathered beneath the mural in Withington on Tuesday evening during an anti-racism demonstration.
Protesters chanted “black lives matter” and took a knee during the gathering, which was organised by the Greater Manchester branch of Stand Up To Racism.
Anyone with information should contact police on 0161 856 4973 quoting incident 453 of 12/07/2021.