England players praised for allyship as thrilling Euro final tarnished by disgusting fan racism
Italy may have won the Euro 2020 final, but England players have been commended for leading the way with their progressive politics throughout the tournament.
The talented young team opened the championships by taking the knee in a powerful gesture of solidarity with Black Lives Matter, facing boos from their own fans as a result.
Despite the backlash they refused to compromise their views and have proudly sported rainbow laces and armbands on the world stage, making no secret of their LGBT+ allyship in a tournament that’s been marred by homophobia.
“Our players are role models,” said England manager Gareth Southgate. “It’s their duty to continue to interact with the public on matters such as equality, inclusivity and racial injustice, while using the power of their voices to help put debates on the table, raise awareness and educate.”
Now as the UK faces the uncomfortable reality that football is not, in fact, coming home, fans are taking solace in the fact that the England team won in all the ways that matter.
“No matter what happens tonight these lads have done us proud,” tweeted radio 1 DJ Adele Roberts ahead of the match. “Standing up against racism, being brilliant LGBT+ allies and giving 100 per cent on the pitch. From Southgate to Pickford they’re united.”
No matter what happens tonight these lads have done us proud. Standing up against racism, being brilliant #LGBT+ allies and giving 100% on the pitch. From Southgate to Pickford they’re united 🙌🏽
— Adele Roberts (@AdeleRoberts) July 11, 2021
So proud of these boys & all they’ve done for our country. We don’t deserve their brilliance. They fought for school meals, kneeled against racism, wore the rainbow with pride & even rode a unicorn!! They are our present & future & they made England united ❤️🤍 #EURO2020 pic.twitter.com/SI9QBfnXjB
— Sharmaine Lovegrove is away (@SharLovegrove) July 11, 2021
👊 An England that took a stance against racism.
🏳️🌈 An England that showed support to the LGBT+ community.
⚽ An England that took us to our first ever final in fifteen European Championships.
❤️ This is our England, and we couldn’t be more proud. pic.twitter.com/x6hOXxQVPG
— Nat. Football Museum (@FootballMuseum) July 12, 2021
So proud. Instead of thinking of it as a missed penalty I will think of it as the moment our next superb England managers were created – decades down the line… his empathy and responsibility and understanding is outstanding #Eng pic.twitter.com/zV0MnabGXV
— emily m (@maitlis) July 12, 2021
Unfortunately, many England fans have not embodied their team’s progressive ideals.
Shortly after England’s penalty shootout loss, social media was flooded with vile, racist abuse directed at players Marcus Rashford, Jadon Sancho and Bukayo Saka, who are all Black.
The Metropolitan Police has opened an investigation into the many shocking comments, while the Football Association said it was “appalled” by the “disgusting behaviour”.
“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,” it said in a statement.
“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.
Gareth Southgate described the abuse directed at the players as “unforgivable.”
“We have been a beacon of light in bringing people together, in people being able to relate to the national team, and the national team stands for everybody and so that togetherness has to continue,” Southgate said Monday (12 July).
British prime minister Boris Johnson said the team deserved to be lauded as heroes and not racially abused on social media, adding: “Those responsible for this appalling abuse should be ashamed of themselves.”
However, he previously refused to condemn those booing the English players as they took the knee to highlight racism, while his home secretary Priti Patel explicitly supported fans in their “right” to do so.
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