As one of England’s top footballers Marcus Rashford is used to keeping his eye on the ball, and this time he’s taken preemptive aim at political magazine The Spectator.

The Manchester United forward, 23, said on Twitter that the publication was set to run a story about him suggesting he has “benefited commercially” from his social justice campaigning.

Rashford has backed a number of child food poverty incentives and, in May, became the youngest person to top the Sunday Times Giving List by raising £20 million in donations from supermarkets for groups tackling the issue. The Three Lions star has also forced a series of Government U-turns over free school meals since the Covid pandemic began.

On Tuesday night, he tweeted a four-part thread acknowledging that his work to feed and provide books for more than one million children has, inevitably, given him a “larger commercial appeal”. But, he asked, why The Spectator – or anyone else – felt the need to suggest there was a selfish agenda behind his efforts.

“Why has there always got to be a motive? Why can’t we just do the right thing?,” he wrote.

His messages were met with a flood of support on the platform, as users insisted he should be viewed as an inspiration who is “trying to make change,” rather than a target for scepticism.

Here’s what they had to say:

The 23-year-old’s full thread read: “Just heard @spectator are planning to run a story on me tomorrow about how I have benefitted commercially in the last 18 months.

“To clarify, I don’t need to partner with brands. I partner because I want to progress the work I do off the pitch and most of any fee I would receive contributes to that.

“Last summer, 1.3M children had access to food support, through my relationship with Burberry children have a safe place to be after school where they will be fed, following the November investment vulnerable children have safe places to go this summer holiday, and due to my relationship with Macmillan 80,000 children now have a book to call their own.

“Do I have a larger commercial appeal following the u-turns? I’m sure. But I’m also a Manchester United and England international footballer. Why has there always got to be a motive? Why can’t we just do the right thing?

“I actually enjoy reading bits from The Spectator now and again but this is just a non starter.”

Rashford’s Burberry partnership saw the fashion company make a number of donations to youth charities and youth clubs, including London Youth and Norbrook Youth Club in Manchester, which he attended as a child.

Before that he launched a petition urging the Government to extend free school meals through the half-term and Christmas holidays, eventually pressuring ministers into providing £170 million of extra funding.

Rashford, who received free school meals himself, was made an MBE in the delayed 2020 Queen’s Birthday Honours List.

However, he has also long been the subject of racist abuse, most notably suffering a wave of online harassment after his penalty miss in the Euro 2020 final against Italy.  Abusive graffiti was also left on a mural of his face in Withington, Manchester.

The striker responded at the time with a powerful statement thanking all those who have supported him and vowing that he will “never apologise for who I am and where I came from”.

“I’m Marcus Rashford, 23 years old, black man from Withington and Wythenshawe, South Manchester,” he said. “If I have nothing else, I have that.”

indy100 has contacted The Spectator for comment.

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