England should feel nothing but pride for our national football after their Euro 2020 triumphs. Yet, some “fans” seem determined to cast shame over the country, pummelling the young Lions stars with racist abuse online.
The trophy didn’t end up “coming home” – as Italian defender Leonardo Bonucci tactfully pointed out – it went to Rome. But that doesn’t mean England doesn’t have an immense amount to be proud of in its bright and bold young squad.
However, rather than applaud their achievements, scores of supporters flooded Saka, Sancho and Rashford’s social media pages with despicable racist abuse. The Football Association, Boris Johnson and big names including Piers Morgan have all condemned their comments as utterly “disgusting” and “unacceptable”, with one minister saying whoever’s responsible “cannot claim to be true fans of the sport."
Speaking to the media on Monday morning, manager Gareth Southgate branded the harassment “unforgivable” as he said his squad would “heal together now”.
He told reporters: “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.
"We have shown the power our country has when it does come together and has that energy and positivity together. It’s my decision who takes the penalties, it’s not a case of players not volunteering or more experienced players backing out."
He added: "We heal together as a team now, and we are there for them, and I know that 99 per cent of the public will be as well.”
Meanwhile, countless celebrities, fans and MPs flocked to social media to offer their support to the brave and heroic players:
Booing and racially abusing the fine young men that play for our country and have given us so much pleasure and joy… https://t.co/wSluBDBf0z
Facebook – which owns Instagram – has since responded to the issue, insisting it tries to remove harmful content as quickly as possible and encouraging people to use the tools it offers to block abuse.
“No one should have to experience racist abuse anywhere, and we don’t want it on Instagram,” a Facebook company spokesperson said.
“We quickly removed comments and accounts directing abuse at England’s footballers last night and we’ll continue to take action against those that break our rules.
“In addition to our work to remove this content, we encourage all players to turn on Hidden Words, a tool which means no one has to see abuse in their comments or DMs.
“No one thing will fix this challenge overnight, but we’re committed to keeping our community safe from abuse.”
‘The saddest thing is this was predictable’ says the organiser behind this mural of Marcus Rashford, which was defa… https://t.co/tMcHI3xlFS
Meanwhile, it emerged that a mural honouring Rashford had been vandalised in Manchester.
Graffiti appeared on the artwork, which is on the wall of the Coffee House Cafe on Copson Street, Withington, on Sunday night.
Greater Manchester Police (GMP) said they were alerted to the damage – which they described as “racially aggravated” – at about 2.50am on Monday.
No arrests have been made and inquiries are ongoing.
Chief Superintendent Paul Savill, of GMP’s City of Manchester division, said: “This is disgraceful behaviour and will absolutely not be tolerated.
“Greater Manchester prides itself on being made up from a number of diverse communities, and hate crime in any form is completely unacceptable and not welcome here in our city.
“GMP takes crimes of this nature very seriously and an investigation has been launched. If anyone has any information that could help us to identify this offender please do not hesitate to speak to police.”