Marcus Rashford, Jadon Sancho and Bukayo Saka, three Black soccer players in the England soccer team, have been subjected to a storm of online racist abuse immediately after their defeat in the final of Euro 2020. England lost to Italy on Sunday.
Many view this recent racist abuse against Blacks as a reality check for England and not so much the country’s top soccer team which have been advocating against racial discrimination.
The abuse has been aimed at the three England players who missed their penalty kicks. Rashford, 23, Sancho, 21, and Saka, 19, were the targets of the abuse after they missed spot kicks in a penalty shootout with Italy which settled Sunday’s final after the game finished as a 1-1 draw.
The racist attack on these players have drawn wide condemnation from the captain of the soccer team, manager, royalty, religious leaders and politician figures.
Prince William, who serves as president of England’s Football Association, wrote on Twitter that he was “sickened by the racist abuse” aimed at the three Black soccer players; adding that, “it must stop now and all those involved should be held accountable.”
Prime Minister Boris Johnson also denounced the racist harassment of the Black players for England’s national soccer team following the team’s loss on Sunday in the Euro 2020 championship.
“This England team deserve to be lauded as heroes, not racially abused on social media,” Johnson wrote on Twitter; adding that, “those responsible for this appalling abuse should be ashamed of themselves.”
However, England’s opposition Labour Party said Johnson was guilty of hypocrisy. “The prime minister failed to call out the booing so whatever he says today rings hollow,” said Labour leader Keir Starmer.
England captain Harry Kane wrote on Twitter, “Three lads who were brilliant all summer had the courage to step up & take a pen when the stakes were high,”
“They deserve support & backing not the vile racist abuse they’ve had since last night. If you abuse anyone on social media you’re not an @England fan and we don’t want you.”
England manager Gareth Southgate called the abuse “unforgivable”.
“It’s just not what we stand for,” Southgate said at a news conference Monday. “We heal together as a team now, and we’re there for them, and I know that 99% of the public will be as well, because they will appreciate how well they played.”
Experience of racism in England for years
English soccer players have been subjected to racism for so long. Many have spoken out about the issue in recent years, including Marcus Rashford, MBE, who this year called the racist abuse he receives from soccer fans “humanity and social media at its worst,”in a Tweet.
“Hate is a strong word. But the racist relying on black English footballers to bring them glory as if they were their servants, then turning on them as soon as they fell short of their dreams, have my deepest contempt,” wrote Musa Okwonga, an English football writer, on Twitter after the game.
In recent times, the multi-racial make-up of the soccer team had been hailed as reflecting a more diverse and modern England receiving praise for their stand against racism, while a number of players have also campaigned on other social causes.
The England team had highlighted the issue of racism by taking the knee before all their matches stating it was a simple show of solidarity against racial discrimination. This was a protest made by American football quarterback Colin Kaepernick followed by the Black Lives Matter movement just last year.
Some fans have booed the gesture, with critics viewing it as a “politicization of sport and expression of sympathy with far-left politics.”
Meanwhile, England’s highest profile soccer organizations are now urging consequences for the torrent of harassment, which began almost instantly after England’s loss to Italy, 3-2 on penalty kicks. The game marked England’s first international finals appearance in more than 50 years.
In a statement released Monday, the Football Association, the sport’s governing body in England, urged the British government to take action on legislation to criminalize online harassment and called on social media companies to do more to remove abusive users.
A mural in the city of Manchester, England, depicting Rashford, celebrating his charitable work, was defaced in a way police have called “racially aggravated.”
London’s Metropolitan Police announced it will investigate the abuse.
“When you abuse any of our players, you abuse all of us. Racist abuse causes trauma. It will impact the targeted players, their teammates, and we know it will also affect their peers,” said the Professional Footballers’ Association.
Many fans also take to social media to show their support for the players, but the racist abuse overshadowed the positive support.
In the penalty shootout, England made its first two shots which were taken, by Harry Kane and Harry Maguire, two White players.
Rashford and Sancho then missed their shots with Rashford’s kick bouncing off the post and Sancho’s saved by Italian goalkeeper Gianluigi Donnarumma.
Two saves by England’s goalkeeper, Jordan Pickford, had England clinging to a chance for victory, as long as the sensational star, Saka, could land a critical fifth shot. But Saka’s attempt was also saved by Donnarumma, causing the Italians to burst into celebration as England’s players crumpled heads in hands.