Social Justice

Racist abuse of England players condemned as Met promises to investigate

The Met Police and Football Association as well as England's 1966 World Cup winner Geoff Hurst have all condemned the racist abuse sent to some England players after the Euro 2020 final.

Leading organisations and public figures have condemned the onslaught of racial abuse faced by England players Marcus Rashford, Jadon Sancho and Bukayo Saka after yesterday’s loss in the Euro 2020 final against Italy.

The Metropolitan Police said it is investigating messages sent to the three players, who all missed penalties in the shootout which decided the game, adding that the “abuse is totally unacceptable and will not be tolerated.” 

The Football Association released a statement, saying it “strongly condemns” all forms of discrimination and is “appalled” by the online racism aimed at some of the English players on social media. The organisation said it is doing all it can to “support the players affected” as well as urging the “toughest punishments possible for anyone responsible.”

This was echoed by the England Team who said they were “disgusted” by the racial abuse faced by some of their players — who have given “everything for the shirt this summer.”

The racial abuse has also been condemned by leading football clubs around the country, with Arsenal saying they “couldn’t be prouder” of Saka, who was praised for his performances in an Arsenal shirt over the last season and in an England shirt this summer, but sad “once again” to say that they condemn the racism of a number of Black players. 

Sir Geoff Hurst, England’s World Cup hero of 1966 also commented on the “monstrous” and “disgusting” abuse the Black players faced after the penalty misses in the final. He told Sky News that his 16-year old grandson warned him it would happen when the shootout was over and was proved right within 15 minutes. Sir Geoff Hurst added that “you’ve got to nail these absolute morons and idiots who are doing that and be much stronger now on social media.” 

The hours preceding the game were marred by scenes of England football fans drinking heavily and causing havoc in the streets, including throwing bottles and smashing windows in London’s Leicester Square. Footage of fights and other outbreaks of violence were also posted online after the game.

Politicians and senior figures have called out the abuse, with Labour leader Keir Starmer tweeting that the England Team represents “the best of us” and anyone racially abusing them is a “disgrace.” He also added that “more needs to be done” when it comes to stopping online abuse. This morning, Health Minister Edward Argar also told Sky News that the “appalling racist abuse” was “disappointing” and that it had “no place” in sport and our country.

While the Prime Minister Boris Johnson is also among those criticising the racial abuse, many have been disparaging due to the prime minister’s previous comments on England players taking the knee  — where he refused to condemn fans who decided to boo the players. Johnson has been repeatedly criticised throughout his career for a long record of making racist, sexist and homophobic comments

This was picked up by the former Manchester United and England player Gary Neville, who told Sky News that “it starts from the very top.” He said the prime minister found it acceptable for the country to boo those players “who are trying to promote equality and defend against racism.” 

The Home Secretary Priti Patel has also raised questions when tweeting that racism “has no place in our country” and her disgust towards the “vile abuse on social media” towards some of the players. She recently said that fans have the right to boo the England team for “gesture politics” of taking the knee.

Deputy Labour leader Angela Rayner addressed the apparent conflict in Johnson and Patel’s words directly.

“Let me be clear,” she tweeted. “The Prime Minister and the Home Secretary gave license to the racists who booed the England players and are now racially abusing England players @BorisJohnson and @pritipatel are like arsonists complaining about a fire they poured petrol on. Total hypocrites.”

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