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. ⚽