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English football reckons with racism

English soccer fans were heartbroken after the national men’s team lost to Italy on penalties in Sunday’s UEFA European Football Championship (Euros) final. England last won a major trophy in 1966, when they triumphed at the World Cup. Long-suffering Bafana Bafana supporters may have felt a bit of sympathy, but then the racism that’s given English football fans a bad name reared its ugly head and sympathy turned to anger. Three English players of African or Caribbean descent – Marcus Rashford, Bukayo Saka and Jadon Sancho – missed their penalties, which triggered widespread racist abuse.

A mural of Rashford in his hometown, Manchester, was vandalised. However, it’s not all bad news: many of the young player’s fans rushed to decorate the mural with hundreds of supportive messages). Meanwhile, a petition started by three football fans who want anyone guilty of racist abuse banned for life from matches across England gathered 1 million signatures in just two days. We hope Sunday’s events are the start of a real reckoning around racism in England, because any kind of prejudice makes the beautiful game ugly. ⚽

This article appeared as part of The Wrap, 15 July 2021. Sign up to receive our weekly updates.