London's Metropolitan Police have condemned racist tweets aimed towards two England players, and have promised swift action.Ashley Young and Ashley Cole were both subjected to abuse on the social networking site after missing penalties against Italy during England's quarter-final shoot-out exit in Kiev.

A police spokesman said the tweets originated in London and would be investigated as a potential public order offence, similar to the charge levelled against John Terry by Anton Ferdinand, a charge Terry denies.

"We are aware of alleged racist comments on Twitter following (Sunday's) England game and have launched an investigation," the spokesman said.

"The allegation was made by a member of the public relating to comments on a Twitter account supposedly based in London.

"The Metropolitan Police Service is examining possible offences under Section 18/19 Public Order Act 1986."

The response by the authorities has been swift, and after a Premier League season dogged by accusations of racism it is inevitable that offenders will be prosecuted if discovered.

One accused tweeter wrote in his defence: "All I got to say is this was just a joke, you guys need to relax, police know i was kiddin (sic) around and they won't bother me hopefully, cheers."

However, his number looked to be up when a West Midlands Police Twitter account replied with: "Wrong. Your comments may constitute a public order offence. We have advised complainants how to officially report this to police."