The brilliant response to racism at last night’s England match

Ed Sykes

On 14 October, England football players were subjected to “abhorrent racist chanting” during a Euro 2020 qualifier in Sofia. But the response has been strong. MPs, for example, have called on European football’s governing body UEFA to come down hard on Bulgaria, with Labour calling for the “harshest possible punishment”.

Bulgaria v England – UEFA Euro 2020 Qualifying – Group A – Vasil Levski National Stadium
Match referee Ivan Bebek (left) speaks to England manager Gareth Southgate and Tyrone Mings with regards to racist chanting from fans (Nick Potts/PA)

Start your day with The Canary News Digest

Fresh and fearless; get excellent independent journalism from The Canary, delivered straight to your inbox every morning.




England were barely troubled during the routine 6-0 victory over their hosts, but the game was overshadowed by racist behaviour in the stands (including monkey chants and Nazi salutes). This forced the match to be halted twice in the first half and fans were warned about their conduct. The following day, Bulgaria’s prime minister called for the Bulgaria Football Union’s president to quit, and he soon obliged.

“The world is watching”

Labour leader Jeremy Corbyn spoke out about the behaviour, saying:

Shadow sports minister Rosena Allin-Khan offered “absolute solidarity” with England’s players, and said she had spoken to the FA after the match.

She said: “Tonight, I’ve had a conversation with the FA Chief Exec and made clear that the England team has my full support. UEFA must come down hard on racism – a generation of players and fans are watching. Time to set an example.”

And speaking in parliament, she stressed:

This abuse must be stamped out – no one should have to arrive at work to be subjected to any form of discrimination. Why are our players still being subjected to this?

UEFA has a duty to act here, the world is watching. A fine is not enough, so I am asking our Government to ensure that we are backing up the FA to seek the harshest possible punishment. Stadium bans are a must, forfeiting matches and expulsion from tournaments must not be ruled out. Enough is enough. The time to act is now.

“A Malcolm X generation”

TV pundit Ian Wright, meanwhile, said:

Now we’ve seen what’s happened and what’s good about it is it has got a generation of players now, not just black players, a generation of players and people that won’t tolerate it any more

He continued:

My generation was a generation of ‘turn the other cheek’, Martin Luther King, this is the generation of ‘by any means necessary’, a Malcolm X generation.

And he stressed:

They don’t need to take that no more. They’ve got their own platforms, now they’ve got the protocol to stick to. This is a great day, I feel really good watching this.

We’ve only got to this point because of demands for change, however. So the ongoing calls for firm action against racism are much needed.

Featured image and additional content via Press Association

Since you're here ...

We know you don't need a lecture. You wouldn't be here if you didn't care.
Now, more than ever, we need your help to challenge the rightwing press and hold power to account. Please help us survive and thrive.

The Canary Support
  • Show Comments
    1. There will never be an end to racism as long as British media and politicians would try to convince that without constant flow of immigrants British society and economy would bleed to death. Native Brits must be grateful to them for their contribution in all walks of British life. We cannot sustain an ageing population if we do not have a significant number of young foreigners coming in to work. If we limit immigration the only logical policy implementation beyond that is euthanasia, without immigration the country will collapse in 10 years.

      Western society is the home of institutional racism.

      The term racism is wrong and out dated. People make judgement calls and discriminate against other people for many different reasons. To refer to a group of people as a ‘race’ is a misnomer. There is only one race, the human race. End of story. People will discriminate against, colour, shades of that colour, texture of hair, geographical location, accent, language, financial income, religion, belief system, ethics, morality, politics, pretty much anything. A white woman has been discriminated against. Been called names, who’re, Christian, lost job offers, been refused accommodation and all of this while knowing the word ‘racism’ has been created just to describe me, because evolution created white skin, from black because of OUR ancestors desire to move across the planet and live in northerly regions.

      Different colour skin usually means a different culture, different language, different features, normally also from different countries with different values. Some people don’t like change or difference and therefore associate that with race. Not scientific I grant you, but very human. Pity us here in Northern Ireland. A pastor from a well-known Belfast church has recently announced in a sermon that Muslims should not be trusted. When asked about this, our First Minister Peter Robinson, who happens to attend this church, declares that he too would not trust Muslims involved in violence, or those devoted to Sharia law, but he would happily trust them to go to the shops for him. That is our leader. The extent of racism in the UK was proven by UKIP’s performance in the recent elections, the situation’s f*cking shameful.

      If you want to see racism in action, head over to the two current threads on immigration. Lots of people proudly declaring themselves to be ‘indigenous’ or ‘native’ British or English people… and conveniently forgetting that their ancestors moved here as well. As long as we buy cheap products from countries that the IMF and World Bank keep in bondage, as long as the colour of the skin of these workers living on a pittance is anything other than white, then we will remain a racist country. As long as we who are lucky enough to have been born in the UK see others as less-deserving of a place in our community just because they were unfortunate to have been born in a war-zone far away, then we will remain a racist country. As long as the FTSE 100, public schools and elite universities refuse to reflect the multicultural diversity of the country… Indeed as long as words like multicultural still have any relevance, then we will remain a racist country. As long as we fight the ‘war on terror’ against opposing ideologies, as long as we are told to fear the rise of China… As long it seems as there are stars.

      Speaking English does not promote integration into British, American and Australian societies, and broaden opportunities. English speaking Muslim youths are angry, frustrated and extremist, thanks to state schools with monolingual non-Muslim teachers and English language. English language is not only a lingua franca but also lingua frankensteinia. Human right are also covers linguistic right. Cultural and linguistic genocide are very common. British schooling is murdering community languages like Arabic, Urdu and others. English is today the world killer language. Linguistic genocide is a crime against humanity and British schooling is guilty of committing this crime. Language is not just a language. It defines one’s culture, identity and consciousness. It defines how we think, communicate and express ourselves. The fact is the most South Asian Muslims have come to know Islam by way of Urdu, the children’s alienation from the language that connects them the heritage of their parents and grandparents is disturbing. As a matter of fact, one has to get to know his mother tongue well if one is to master any other language.

      No way is Britain open minded. I say this as a non-native who has been discriminated against even in an official context and knows plenty of stories of others who I personally know and who suffered even worse. Britain is, after all, a deeply segregated country along racial lines. Why else would there be such an institution as the “National Black Police Association”? So why do we get all upset when non-police officers advocate racial segregation and thus discrimination? I think you’ll find the national black police association emerged after, and due to, the rampant racism of the police force. Otherwise they wouldn’t have needed to form. Clearly.

      The quiet racism thrives in all-white all English enclaves, especially rural areas. I live in one such place and in the local village pub after hours when their guards are down the racist abuse starts on the very safe ground of Muslim hating then extends eastern Europeans, and more recently the Scots. But this will only be said when the door is locked and the curtains drawn, when they feel safe to voice their racism. And sadly it’s not just the ignorant, but also as I have witnessed a lawyer and a solicitor, a pair of parish councillors, a prison warden, and a retired policeman. This is not something that can be eradicated by educated, these people are educated, they are also laced with hatred. If British people are against people coming from other countries to live and work here then they should be prohibited from living and working in foreign countries themselves. Seems fair, doesn’t it? Britain has one of the lowest amounts of immigration of most Western Europe…

      Migration is neither good nor bad, and humans all belong to one species. The earth is my home planet, and I should be able to live anywhere on it that I want to, and so should everyone else. Let’s be honest having lived in England for a few years….The white population are becoming increasingly racist. The country might have plenty of laws against SAYING racist things whose purpose is to hide racism, all the while many if not most people in this country act and have a mind-set which is deeply xenophobic.

      Yes but with an ageing population, immigrants provide a highly important influx of young people paying into the tax system. The vast majority of welfare payments are paid to the elderly and immigrants are also less likely to claim benefits. Don’t always believe what you read in the right wing press. The governments interest is to turn working people against each other instead of resisting neoliberal globalisation which is the real cause of a race to the bottom in terms of wages. Working people in Britain can’t be protected from this by stopping immigration as the flow of goods already occurs relatively freely across borders. The rest is just people struggling to deal with change, personally my life has been greatly enriched by having grown up in inner London and having known people from many cultures and religions. We can learn things from each other, just because someone is of a different colour or culture doesn’t mean you can’t relate to them and they can’t contribute to our own culture. I personally can’t imagine a Britain without diverse population- most of these people have greatly enriched our culture adding new viewpoints, new music, new food. If you want to go back to Britain of the 1950s than i feel sorry for you, especially if you think poverty was any better when there were fewer immigrants. This tends to be the habit of some people, pessimistic about the future and with a rose tinted view of the past.

      Without immigrants and the surplus of immigrant workers, their economy would simply collapse because of low birth rate. Europe is aging fast. Immigrants or not. I am not saying all migrants but those whose countries are unsafe as a direct result of UK war policy illegal policy, destabilising lands, destroying infrastructure people’s lives yes they have a right to compensation, if that means coming to Britain then why not it’s called taking responsibility for you governments actions .Just as Germany had to after the war… reparations and compensation to the Jews. I do not blame these people for wanting a better life. If I had been unfortunate to be born in one of those terrible places with no opportunities or potential for advancement I would probably do the same as them. The west makes the mess and then when people want to escape hell they tell all these poor lost souls to bugger off, disgusting. These people just want to have a better life and England can offer them that. They are going to be productive citizens in your country. These people are flying corrupted countries and wants a better life, they need help, I’m not saying they should come just to UK the rest of Europe should take some of them so they can work and better their life’s as their own country have let them down, we are all humans and should help each other,,

      If immigrants were to leave the UK, and the UK left the EU, the entire UK economy would collapse virtually overnight. Wake-up. The UK no longer manufactures anything. The UK became a financial-services whore-house a long time ago. Oh those poor little British people who are denied jobs by migrants, jobs they don’t want to do, jobs that they won’t take because they are too bloody lazy, and those awful migrants, contributing to the economy, living with friends and relatives, those awful, awful migrants that don’t claim benefits, god they really are a terrible bunch aren’t they!! You only need Office for National Statistics data to see that Eastern EU migrants have much higher employment level than the native British population – hence relying less on Benefits than the Brits.

      I think as it’s widely accepted that most migrants are young working age people who get work and don’t need to claim benefits, the idea that they are a drain on the NHS is silly – people in that demographic aren’t at the point in their lives when they need much healthcare. Most of the NHS’s resources are spent on the elderly. Ditto, education – they’ve finished their education so aren’t a cost there either. And as for having their children educated here, the only reason our birth rate is at, and not well below, the replacement rate is migrants. The problems of our ageing population, increasingly in retirement, would be far worse without migrants having children. Migration has been at the centre of human survival and geopolitical boundaries are actually anti-survivalist that’s if you want to take the route of “survival of the fittest”. Immigration is good, Diversity is strength, Multiculturalism makes areas ‘vibrant’.

      Immigrants are net contributors to the NHS too, they bring in more money than they spend, that has been the case for a long time. I love watching the right squirm for new arguments whenever they are confronted with facts that don’t fit their agenda. With all respect, I don’t think that Brits taking the dole are interested in earning their income being employed. I have seen whole British families living in council housing and milking the system of any benefit possible. Nobody in the family working or interested in working. I haven’t seen Eastern European families doing the same. The ones I knew are taking something out of the system were also working and paying their taxes. But of course I don’t know every single immigrant in the UK, so I can only speak basing on my personal experience, which doesn’t equal sociological research. What do you mean by the “best” immigrants? The ones who are educated or the ones who are working? I’m entirely sure there are immigrants living off the system. There seems to be a stereotype of immigrants coming over to the UK just to claim benefits and I think it’s largely demagogy publicized for political gain.

      Read the report – of a £109bn health budget, immigrants account for £12m – that’s 0.01% use, which is well below the level of the older, sicker, more likely to be invalided native Brits! And be glad about that increased birth rate – those are the people who’ll be paying your pension, as well as your health bills as you get older! And again – read the report! It says that non-EEA (that is, people from outside the EU, Norway, Iceland and Liechtenstein) immigrants made a negative net contribution of £118bn: BUT it also says that BRITISH people made a negative net contribution of £591bn!!
      IA
      http://www.londonschoolofislamics.org.uk

    Leave a Reply

    Join the conversation

    Please read our comment moderation policy here.