England’s hopes for football silverware rest on racially diverse team members equally active on off-field matters.
England’s Football Association and British Prime Minister Boris Johnson have condemned the online racist abuse of players following the team’s penalty shoot-out loss to Italy in the Euro 2020 final.
On Sunday the sides drew 1-1 after extra time and Italy won the shoot-out 3-2, with England players Marcus Rashford, Jadon Sancho and Bukayo Saka, who are all Black, missing spot-kicks.
“The FA strongly condemns all forms of discrimination and is appalled by the online racism that has been aimed at some of our England players on social media,” the statement posted in the early hours of Monday morning said.
— The FA (@FA) July 12, 2021
“We could not be clearer that anyone behind such disgusting behaviour is not welcome in following the team. We will do all we can to support the players affected while urging the toughest punishments possible for anyone responsible.”
The England team also released a statement, condemning the abuse directed at its players on social media.
“We’re disgusted that some of our squad – who have given everything for the shirt this summer – have been subjected to discriminatory abuse online after tonight’s game,” the team tweeted.
Prime Minister Johnson stood behind the players as well, saying that team deserved to be lauded as heroes.
“Those responsible for this appalling abuse should be ashamed of themselves,” he tweeted.
This England team deserve to be lauded as heroes, not racially abused on social media.
Those responsible for this appalling abuse should be ashamed of themselves.
— Boris Johnson (@BorisJohnson) July 12, 2021
Following his tweet, Johnson was criticised for initially failing to condemn England fans for booing their football team for taking the knee in protest against racial injustice.
British police said they would investigate the racist posts against the players.
“We are aware of a number of offensive and racist social media comments being directed towards footballers following the #Euro2020 final,” the Metropolitan Police tweeted.
“This abuse is totally unacceptable, it will not be tolerated and it will be investigated.”
London Mayor Sadiq Khan called on social media companies to remove such content from their platforms.
“Those responsible for the disgusting online abuse we have seen must be held accountable – and social media companies need to act immediately to remove and prevent this hate”, Khan said in a tweet.
England’s players have made a strong stand against racism at the tournament, taking a knee before their games, including at Sunday’s final.
Arsenal sent a message of support to their winger Saka while Rashford was backed by his club Manchester United.
“Football can be so cruel. But for your personality … your character … your bravery … We’ll always be proud of you. And we can’t wait to have you back with us,” Arsenal tweeted.
United said they looked forward to welcoming Rashford home, adding: “One kick won’t define you as a player or person.”