HAMPSHIRE police say they are unable to take action against social media users who racially abused a black Southampton football player – as they are from outside of the UK.

The force has told the Echo that they carried out a “thorough investigation” into racist comments directed towards former midfielder Alex Jankewitz on Feb 2.

The midfielder, who was making his first start, was sent off inside 90 seconds in the club’s 9-0 defeat to Manchester United.

Daily Echo: Southampton's Alex Jankewitz leaves the game after being shown a red card following a foul on Manchester United's Scott McTominay (not pictured) during the Premier League match at Old Trafford, Manchester. Picture date: Tuesday February 2, 2021. P

Following the match, the then-19-year-old was said to be subjected to monkey emojis and racist terms on social media.

This was the last game he played for Saints before moving to Swiss side BSC Young Boys over the summer.

Now the police have revealed that the probe has led to the identification of “a number of” IP addresses linked to usernames who had sent the messages.

However, they were registered outside of the UK.

This meant officers were unable to formally identify who was responsible, and so are unable to take any further action.

“This was communicated back to Southampton Football Club and the player,” the force said.

The police added in a statement: “We continue to work closely with SFC to ensure players feel confident to report abuse to us and get the support they need.

“Police at a national level are continuing to work with social media companies to reduce online hate.

“Any crime perpetuated through ignorance, prejudice or hate is unacceptable and will not be tolerated.

“Reports can be made online on the Hampshire Constabulary website, through True Vision or using the growing network of Third Party Reporting Centres for hate crime.”