‘Coward racist trolls have no place in football or this country’

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What was meant to be an amazing night in English football soon became a nightmare, as millions of people across England had their dreams thrashed at the Euro 2020 Final against Italy.

It came down to penalties, and three of England’s most talented footballers, Marcus Rashford, Jadon Sancho, and Bukayo Saka, missed. That’s the nature of the game. Do they still remain the top brass of English football? Absolutely. People should’ve moved on by now.

Unfortunately, a loud and vicious minority of England "fans" took to social media and commented the monkey emoji under the profiles of the black members of the England squad, exploiting an existing loophole that allows users to racially abuse people without being flagged for breaking community guidelines on sites like Facebook.

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Far and wide, people have condemned Instagram and others for their lack of intervention. Even the Prime Minister, Boris Johnson, had a meeting with top social media executives about finding ways to combat racism on their platforms.

Funnily enough, these companies, especially Instagram, are spending most of their time using AI to read posts and stories to detect Covid-19 literature, instead of tackling racism that seems so prevalent. Where are their priorities resting? They’re too busy implementing silly changes we haven’t asked for, instead of dealing with the real problems that face black people and other minorities at the hands of racist tw*ts.

What’s also infuriating, are the politicians condemning England players for using their large platforms to speak against the hypocrisy. Such as when Tory MP, Andrew Rosindell, tweeted England player, Tyrone Mings, asking him to “focus on football not politics”, after Mings criticised British Home Secretary, Priti Patel, who didn’t condemn fans who booed when players decided to take the knee.

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It’s called stoking the flames. So when Patel tweeted against the racism, her remarks were met with widespread backlash. Don’t encourage the same people to boo at an anti-racist stance, and on the same leaf, call out the racists that probably rejoiced at the free pass you gave them to shame the England players taking the knee before the matches.

I’m not quite sure why politicians, commentators, and others find it so hard to disassociate taking the knee from the Black Lives Matter movement. I’m sure those taking the knee don’t all want to "defund the police" and champion other aims of BLM, however they can appreciate the cause against the mistreatment towards black people and taking the knee signifies a stand or "knee" against racist motivations. That’s all.

I was shocked Guto Harri has been pulled off GB News after taking the knee on air. The broadcaster interrupted transmission to make a stance against racism, but the right-wing leaning platform has condemned the action, calling it a “breach of standards”. Why? I thought GB News was a platform for free speech, even his colleagues defended the move. Although, not many people saw it; the channel had zero viewers at one point, according to official figures from Barb, following a boycott.

Don’t get me started on Boris. The man who’s been consistently racist in the past, is now ironically telling others not to be racist. Of course the PM should abscond those who commit these types of crimes, but coming from him, makes everything seem so insincere and hollow; a hard pill to swallow for black people across this country.

The police are investigating these online incidents of racism, but I know from first hand experience, trying to find offenders online is incredibly difficult. Technology companies (with HQs and chiefs in the USA), don’t work closely with UK authorities on every case of online harassment, hate crimes etc and subsequently, being able to prove guilt can be challenging too. However, some racists have already been caught and are facing justice.

Now is the time to enforce social media verification, whereby anyone signing up or has an existing account, must verify their profile using a form of ID. This will allow criminals to be easily tracked and hopefully deter these abhorrent racists from spewing anymore of their hatred on public platforms.

As much as a lot of negativity has emerged from the tournament, especially after England’s loss, we are seeing glimmers of hope. A mural for Marcus Rashford was recently vandalised, but immediately restored by the community. It goes to show the divisions in this country are easily fixed, especially when we are united behind a great people like Rashford, Sancho, and Saka.

England may have lost, yet we must remain hopeful for the World Cup 2022 in Qatar where the boys can show us all over again their boundless skill as athletes and dogged determination to make their country proud. Racism has no place in the game, or this country, and I look forward to seeing these bigots face the full extent of the law.

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  • Marcus Rashford
  • Ryan-Mark Parsons

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