The Online Penalty for Being Black English Football Players

Sports is an excellent common denominator for tackling cultural barriers and uniting people in spirit. It teaches us coherence, tolerance and discipline. 72% of sports fans expect sportsmen and athletes to coalesce around issues of social justice and help create the world we want – an equal and fair world. We mention this is because as fans we need to do our due too – stand against any discrimination against our sportsmen. 

This is in the early hours of 12 July 2021, England’s Football Association (FA) released a statement condemning the social media comments directed at marvellous England football players, Marcus Rashford, Jadon Sancho and Bukayo Saka, who failed to score their spot-kicks in the penalty shootout, resulting in a 3-2 loss to Italy in the Euro 2020 final that took place on Sunday. 

The World We Want is one without inequalities and hate. Throughout history, racism has manifested in overtly discriminatory conduct that either precluded or severely limited African-Americans’ participation in sports and today, manifested as an absolute onslaught of racist abuse online that took place after England’s defeat at the three incredibly gifted players, who were all Black. Even Rashford’s mural in Withington was defaced with abusive graffiti. Such behaviour is not acceptable and severely looked down upon. And we demand justice!

“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…We will do all we can to support the players affected while urging the toughest punishments possible for anyone responsible.” the FA statement said.

The metropolitan police have launched an investigation into this grave offence and said they would thoroughly investigate the posts. 

“We are aware of a number of offensive and racist social media comments being directed towards footballers following the #Euro2020 final,” the British Police tweeted. “This abuse is totally unacceptable, it will not be tolerated and it will be investigated.”

Twitter actively deleted over 1000 tweets and suspended accounts that participated in this abhorrent abuse of the British national players. As a society, we cannot forget the deep connection we share with each another and act with passion. Such lack of empathy is alarming especially when the world is recovering from a pandemic. We believe in the power of communications to uplift society and urge you to take to social media in support of the footballers just like many fans have done using #Euro2020 to upstage any hate comments. Such shocking behaviour should be given due attention it needs by bringing culprits to justice.

Prime Minister Boris Johnson and Prince William also tweeted their condemnation and urged the police to implement “the toughest punishments possible”.

Marcus Rashford apologised to his fans for missing a penalty but says he “will never apologise for who I am” after receiving online racist abuse.