The abuse of England’s football players shows racism is still endemic

Saka after missing a penalty
Support us and go ad-free

A record-breaking 31m viewers sat down to watch the football last night, as England made it into its first men’s major final in years.

Gareth Southgate’s young, socially conscious team stepped out to play Italy under much pressure. And after a tense, seemingly never ending two hours, the game came down to penalties.

Marcus Rashford’s shot didn’t hit the target. Jadon Sancho and Bukayo Saka were also unlucky, and the final ended in victory for Italy.

Since then, all three of those players have been subject to vile racist abuse on social media.


The horrifying racism has rightly been widely condemned, with many offering an outpouring of support for the whole team and the incredible job they did to get so far.

Some of the statements rang much more hollow. The prime minister and home secretary were among those condemning the racism.

Only last month, Priti Patel said fans ‘have a right‘ to boo players for taking the knee before games, emboldening exactly the sort of people who would be racist towards the players.

In addition, Patel’s immigration policies could have cut the England team in half, were they implemented years ago. 13 members of the England squad are descended from immigrants: immigrants just like those whom Patel plans to criminalise and send to offshore detention centres.

Johnson has similarly been accused of promoting racist language:

“Common human decency”

Some people have drawn attention to the good deeds and achievements of Rashford, Sancho and Saka.

But it’s important to remember, incredible as those three all are, no Black person ought to have to win a cup final or fight child poverty to protect themselves from racism.

A recurring issue

This is far from a unique occurrence in football. Only back in May, Rashford said he received over 70 racial slurs on social media after his team Manchester United lost the Europa League final.

The England team has, as mentioned, been taking the knee before every match to protest racism – and some of the reactions to this have made it clear why taking the knee is still important.

The organisation Kick It Out was created in 1993 to challenge racism in football. And it has said it would back boycotting social media to strangle online racism towards footballers.

It’s not just football

Keir Starmer was another politician who took to social media to condemn the racist abuse this morning, saying it “doesn’t represent us”.

As many people pointed out, despairingly, this kind of racism is part of the racism we still have endemic across Britain.

Teenagers still report rampant racism in schools from both peers and teachers. Human rights experts condemned a government-supported report into race as ‘normalising white supremacy‘. The police are still far more likely to use force against Black people.

This barely even begins to cover it.

The reaction to last night further highlights how much we still need to do to tackle racism in this country.

Featured image via YouTube/ITV Sport

Support us and go ad-free

We need your help to keep speaking the truth

Every story that you have come to us with; each injustice you have asked us to investigate; every campaign we have fought; each of your unheard voices we amplified; we do this for you. We are making a difference on your behalf.

Our fight is your fight. You’ve supported our collective struggle every time you gave us a like; and every time you shared our work across social media. Now we need you to support us with a monthly donation.

We have published nearly 2,000 articles and over 50 films in 2021. And we want to do this and more in 2022 but we don’t have enough money to go on at this pace. So, if you value our work and want us to continue then please join us and be part of The Canary family.

In return, you get:

* Advert free reading experience
* Quarterly group video call with the Editor-in-Chief
* Behind the scenes monthly e-newsletter
* 20% discount in our shop

Almost all of our spending goes to the people who make The Canary’s content. So your contribution directly supports our writers and enables us to continue to do what we do: speaking truth, powered by you. We have weathered many attempts to shut us down and silence our vital opposition to an increasingly fascist government and right-wing mainstream media.

With your help we can continue:

* Holding political and state power to account
* Advocating for the people the system marginalises
* Being a media outlet that upholds the highest standards
* Campaigning on the issues others won’t
* Putting your lives central to everything we do

We are a drop of truth in an ocean of deceit. But we can’t do this without your support. So please, can you help us continue the fight?

The Canary Support us