Thursday, December 2

The Guardian’s Point of View on Rashford, Sancho and Saka: Disappointed by the Whistles of Downing Street Dogs | Editorial

TThe country woke up Monday to a grayish July sky and a feeling of sports disappointment. Overnight, the Twitter account of the England team published a pleasant message that seeks to capture the sense of national unity that grew during Euro 2020. Football, he said, was not just about winning trophies, it was also about solidarity: “It’s community. It is unity. It’s my home “.

These admirable sentiments will reflect the sentiments of the vast majority of those who attended the final between England and Italy. Unfortunately, they risk being undermined by a spate of racist abuse online targeting Bukayo Saka, Marcus Rashford and Jadon Sancho, the three players who missed penalties in the penalty shoot-out that Italy won. A Rashford mural in Manchester was also known to have suffered racially aggravated damage. The mural, erected near where Rashford grew up, had been commissioned in recognition of the player’s remarkable campaign on child food poverty. Taken together with images of large groups of fans without tickets rape security and causing chaos at Wembley, and violent scenes In Leicester Square, it all adds up to a depressing ending to an inspiring sports interlude.

There has long been a nasty and vindictive minority among the supporters of the England team. In the summer of 1998, when England lost to Argentina in the World Cup, an effigy of David Beckham was hung outside a South London pub. As vile as that incident was, the racial dimension this time takes it into a different league. And as a Guardian investigation revealed last month, vitriol, spite and bile are now multiplying a thousandfold on social media. In April, Premier League teams and other sports organizations boycotted online platforms for a weekend in protest against the endless stream of abuse. Twitter saying on Monday it had deleted more than 1,000 posts and suspended some accounts, but social media companies need to devote much greater resources to dealing with hate speech on their platforms.

However, the ball doesn’t stop there. Boris Johnson aptly described the abuse of Saka, Rashford and Sancho as “appalling”. But the prime minister helped make this sordid postscript last a wonderful few weeks. On the eve of Euro 2020, Johnson refused to condemn spectators who booed players for “kneeling” before games. His Home Secretary, Priti Patel, also defended the right to boo and expressed his personal hostility towards the “gesture policy.” As the most ethnically diverse England team in the country’s history progressed to the final, Johnson quickly donned an England jersey and jumped on the feel-good train. But given the constant efforts made by players like Raheem Sterling to highlight issues of racial inequality and abuse, the prime minister’s dog whistles revealed their true colors. Ambient music from the top of the government covered a racist minority, some of whom seized their moment after the defeat.

On Tuesday there are plans for a “solidarity meeting” on the defaced Rashford mural in Manchester. How discouraging that, after a national occasion that showed so much of the positive about England in 2021, such an event is necessary.

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