Shomporko Online News Desk: After England’s defeat in the Euro 2020 final, black players in the team were exposed to a barrage of online racist abuse, garnering widespread condemnation from the team’s manager, Gareth Southgate, as well as royalty and politicians.
Marcus Rashford, 23, Jadon Sancho, 21, and Bukayo Saka, 19, were abused after missing spot-kicks in a penalty shootout with Italy that decided the final on Sunday after the game ended in a 1-1 draw.
The remarks provoked a police inquiry and widespread condemnation, however, some opponents accused some politicians of hypocrisy for refusing to endorse the players’ high-profile anti-racist stance during the tournament.
“For some of them to be abused is unforgivable,” Southgate told a news conference. “Some of it has come from abroad, we have been told this, but some of it is from this country.”
Britain’s Prime Minister Boris Johnson condemned the racist online abuse on Monday during an unrelated press conference, saying he hoped the abusers crawled back under their rocks.
“For those who have been directing racist abuse at some of the players, I say ‘Shame on you,” Johnson said in a Downing Street press briefing on Monday. “And I hope you will crawl back under the rock from which you emerged.”
The England team has earned praise for their stand against racism, while a number of players have also campaigned on other social causes. The multi-racial make-up of the team had been hailed as reflecting a more diverse modern Britain.
The team had highlighted the issue of racism by taking the knee before all their matches – a protest made by American footballer Colin Kaepernick and followed by the Black Lives Matter movement last year – saying it was a simple show of solidarity against racial discrimination.
However, some fans have booed the gesture, with critics viewing it politicization of sport and an expression of sympathy with far-left politics.
Some ministers have been accused of hypocrisy for refusing to criticize those who booed and using it as part of a wider “culture war,” often portrayed as a rift between those wanting to protect Britain’s heritage from a “woke” youth, who see their elders as blocking moves to end racial and social injustice.
“This England team deserves to be lauded as heroes, not racially abused on social media,” Prime Minister Boris Johnson said on Twitter. “Those responsible for this appalling abuse should be ashamed of themselves.”
While Johnson himself said the team should not be booed, his own spokesman had declined to criticize the fans over the issue when asked.
Priti Patel, the Home Secretary (Interior Minister), also stated last month that she did not support players kneeling because it was “gesture politics” and that it was up to supporters to boo players. She joined many who protested the abuse on Monday.
However, Angela Rayner, the deputy leader of the opposition Labour Party, claimed Johnson and Patel were to blame.
She wrote on Twitter, “The Prime Minister and the Home Secretary gave license to the racists who booed England players and are now racially insulting England players.”