The racial abuse that started immediately after England’s loss to Italy, 3-2 in Euro 2020 finals is unacceptable. The abuse has been aimed at the three English players who missed their penalty kicks. All three — Marcus Rashford, Jadon Sancho and Bukayo Saka — are Black.
“It doesn’t matter if you are a player now, or back in my time, it’s always been there. I played in the 1980s, 90s and in the 21st century and have witnessed banana skins and all sorts of abuse. Football has come a long way in terms of trying to curb this but in the last couple of years, it seems to have gone right back again. We felt we were making progress — so this is very sad to see,” Manchester United star Dwight Yorke told Gulf News in April 2019, after England footballer Raheem Sterling received both verbal and online racial abuse while playing for club and country.
More than two years later, amid a yearlong series of protests against racism, we are no further forward in the fight against this ugly and disgusting social ill, and, simply put, it has no place in this day and age — either in sport or a society as a whole.
Sadly, racism in sport is once again back in the headlines, when we should be talking about the action on the field.
A sad culmination
The latest disgusting chapter comes at the close of Euro 2020, where England lost on penalties to Italy in the final at Wembley in London. It had been a tremendous journey, bringing a nation together to back Gareth Southgate and his men on a journey all the way to the showdown with Roberto Mancini’s Italians.
By now, we should be marvelling at one of the greatest international football competitions in years, but instead it has been marred by an ugly turn of events.
For years, players have been saying you have to get through to people through education but it keeps coming up.
Maybe now it is time to start acting. Players and authorities need to come together and agree on a way to take it forward. The players’ association, the FA, Uefa and Fifa — they all need to get together and stamp this out for good. There is no place for this offensive behaviour in any form of sport.