Marcus Rashford, Jadon Sancho and Bukayo Saka were targeted on social media after they missed penalties in the 3-2 shootout defeat at Wembley Stadium after the EURO 2020 Final defeat by Italy. Despite teammates Marcus Rashford and Jadon Sancho missing penalties early in the game,the crucial miss of the night came from the boot of the 19-year-old Arsenal man. Trailing 3-2 at the time, Saka needed to score in order to extend the shoot-out into sudden death. However, his penalty was saved, giving the Italians their second European Championships title. Visibly distraught, Saka was immediately consoled by his fellow England players and staff. It was a cruel end to what has been a breakout tournament. You can’t expect a 19-year-old boy to score the game’s most vital penalty and one of England’s most significant moments in history. Some may say that a professional athlete must be able to handle pressure, but what can you expect from a teenager when even the best players in the world miss important shots?
England came so close. But in the end, they didn’t bring it home. England fans have waited more than five decades to see the Three Lions in a major tournament final! People attempted to break into the stadium since it was such a huge deal for England. Ticketless fans attempted to surge through the gates of Wembley Stadium, prompting security to intervene. Bottles and projectiles were thrown by fans. While policing the final, the London Metropolitan Police reported they made 49 arrests.
Following the big competition final of the Three Lions, the three Black players had their social media accounts flooded with racist abuse. There is an issue in society where we feel it’s acceptable basically to criticize players for sporting actions because of the color of their skin. This isn’t just about football. Racism and discrimination have existed for a long time, not just today. What is Racism? Racism takes many forms and can happen in many places. It includes prejudice, discrimination or hostility directed at someone because of their skin color, ethnicity or national origin. People often associate racism with acts of abuse or harassment. However, it doesn’t need to involve violent or intimidating behavior. Consider racist slurs and jokes. Consider circumstances in which people are excluded from groups or activities according to where they come from or their origins. Racial abuse is nothing new, and it has become normalized in our society. We must do better as a society and hold these individuals accountable. Hatred will never win.
England, the country that, with the apparent support of some of its leading politicians, booed those very same players when they had the nerve to express their diversity and progressivism. It is the country that racially abused three Black players when they missed penalties on the final day of the Euros, but it is also the country that showered all three with love and support in response. It is the country that fashioned the person who daubed abuse — of a nonracist nature, according to the police — on the mural of Rashford in south Manchester, near where he grew up. But it is also the country that, within a few hours, buried that abuse beneath all of those flags and hearts.
Manager Gareth Southgate’s young squad made it to the final of a major international tournament for the first time in 5 decades. It wasn’t the fairy-tale finish it wanted or was so close to achieving, but its performance, on and off the pitch, unequivocally lifted the hearts of us supporting fans. After decades of failure and underachievement since England’s last major championship at the 1966 World Cup, some dared to dream that this could really be the year when England triumphed. But 2021 was not the year “football is coming home.” Heartbroken we lost, but still so proud of this team. A couple more years of hurt will never stop us dreaming.
Sports play an emotional and social role in our lives. Professional sports, in particular, are more than an entertainment industry designed to provide paying spectators with something entertaining to watch, but they mean so much more to us fans. Football is much more than merely a goal-scoring or match-winning sport. It’s a partnership in which only love prevails. Love for the colors you wear, for the crest you touch when you pray exactly above your heart, and for the boots you lace up in the hopes that your legs pump faster than your heart.
Racism isn’t something that you’re born with, it is something that is taught. The way people react to situations involving different races needs to change. Racism is not just against one group, it happens to all. History repeats itself until we get it right. I believe it is more important to teach future generations by setting examples for them to follow, providing adequate instruction in schools, and doing in-depth analyses of why racism persists. We cannot advance forward as a society if we are limited by these controversial constraints. We should be working with each other, not against each other. To make a change we need to start holding peaceful protests, use your voice and stand up for what’s right, voting for who we think should lead, having less judgement towards each other, and increasing education. If we teach people or future generations to judge others based on their personality, then they won’t judge appearances. The way people react to situations involving races must change. Finally, while scoring would not have abolished racism, they would have been hailed as heroes — isn’t it enough to realize that their talent brought them so far in the first place?
Rashford, Saka and Sancho.
Nicole Herrera – La Lumiere