Knock on England’s door and all you’ll receive is a disappointed Three Lions’ roster and a dejected Gareth Southgate. Failing at the final hurdle, the Three Lions had to be satisfied with a silver medal in the recently concluded Euros. Roberto Mancini’s Italy conquered the European crown after hammering England 3-2 on penalties after which Rashford, Saka, and Sancho received immense online abuse on English players. While the English fan poured in with endearment for the Lions, a handful of them hid behind their social media profile to spread hate towards the three black players who unfortunately missed their spot-kicks.
#Azzurri 🇮🇹 🏆
About last night 😍
Relive all the action from #Wembley, as a penalties victory crowns us European Champions! 🙌🏻#VivoAzzurro #EURO2020
— Italy ⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️ (@Azzurri_En) July 12, 2021
England kicked off their Euro 2020 campaign with three points against Croatia and finished off with a defeat against Italy in the ultimate showdown at Wembley. From Southgate’s eleven to England’s fortune, everything changed other than the Three Lions’ practise of taking a knee before the game.
While the comment sections of Rashford, Sancho, and Saka are filled with astonishing examples of the hate they receive, we figure out the global nature of online abuse on English players and why it’s a challenge standing in front of English football’s brand new golden generation.
Try searching on google examples of online abuse on English players and the search engine will present a galaxy of examples in front of you. While the top-5 leagues are already engulfed with social media profiles constantly criticising their players, the different leagues in the world are being eaten up because of these remarks.
Marcus Rashford’s penalty-miss might have spoiled a nation’s party, but the youngster’s off-the-field work did uplift the same nation in the time of crisis. A young 21-year-old boy, a talismanic winger from Camberwell has stamped his authority in Bundesliga with outstanding performances for Borussia Dortmund. But does a penalty-miss define the youngster’s career?
Instead of uplifting the country’s tomorrow, England’s spectators are destroying the player’s confidence who can actually ‘Bring It Home.
The hatred towards these stars of football doesn’t only come from their home nations. Remember when Kylian Mbappe, missed a penalty against Switzerland to send the World Champions back home. The world showered the Frenchmen with hatred and abusive tweets. Everyone forgot who inspired a generation of budding footballers, how he led different campaigns in France to bring about a change in the country, Mbappe’s character was judged on a single penalty.
UNITED against racism. We will not tolerate it 🔴⚫️ pic.twitter.com/lR8Qcnxq4N
— Harry Maguire (@HarryMaguire93) January 28, 2021
Take the example of Harry Maguire. England’s silver-lining in the brave European brawl against the world. The centre-back arrived at the Theatre a few years back and was subjected to utmost online abuse and atrocious remarks because of the price tag attached to Maguire’s chest. Although the centre-back handled the hatred perfectly, youngsters like Saka and Sancho might succumb to the pressure of keeping their trolls satisfied.
Wednesday’s @DailyMirror front page: @MarcusRashford You Inspire Us pic.twitter.com/qLoYC2yIh5
— Pippa Crerar (@PippaCrerar) July 13, 2021
Rashford is the epitome of ‘change’ but still a recipient of online abuse from his countrymen. When the world was suffering from a pandemic and the UK were battling through the storm, Rashford came forward to support his nations. No child under Rashford’s watch slept hungrily, the government introduced free meals in schools after Rashford raised his voice, while the towering forward improved the lives of 1.7 million children living in the UK. But just because he’s a man with a darker skin shade he’s subjected to discrimination, and his contribution is thrown out of the window.
Special to play and win this trophy with my family in the stadium tonight ❤️ Most importantly we got the three points and topped the group ! Now onto the knockout stages 👀 pic.twitter.com/bpy3cMyxVY
— Bukayo Saka (@BukayoSaka87) June 22, 2021
Bukayo Saka, a 19-year-old revelation entered Arsenal with sparkling eyes and dreams to become England’s tomorrow. A prolific Premier League campaign, the youngster injected a sense of triumph in Gunner’s depleted squad. The Gunners supporters slept peacefully every week if Saka had a glamorous outing at the Emirates. Imagine the pressure on Saka’s shoulder when he stepped up for the penalty. While a few 19-year-olds are abusing him hiding behind a fake profile, Bukayo Saka almost uplifted a nation with his world-class performances.
ONLINE ABUSE POURING IN FROM ALL OVER THE WORLD
The story of online abuse isn’t a new concept for England to handle but surely a daunting one. Last year’s Champions League and Europa League ended with Chelsea and Villareal being announced as the respective champions. Two tournaments full of fairy tales and heartbreaks, the fans of the losing teams’ didn’t take their team’s bashing positively.
A committee was established to detect the prejudice and hatred existing in modern football. According to the companies’ About Page, the Fare Network is an umbrella organization that brings together individuals, informal groups and organisations driven to combat inequality in football and use the sport as a means for social change.
The Fare Committee tried to find the online abuse received after England’s final against the mighty Italians at the home of football Wembley.
“The abuse is global, with accounts from Indonesia to Argentina levelling racism and homophobia at players. The biggest number of discriminatory posts appeared in French and Spanish, followed by English,” the report found.
It’s difficult for the Football Association (FA) and other organisations to pursue internet haters and offenders for court proceedings because they’re spread throughout the globe and don’t have a face linking them to their social profiles.
“It makes it increasingly difficult because the challenge is that, even if you do get into a position where you do want to use law enforcement and pursue something further, you have got cross-country laws and rules and regulations and different legislation,” Edleen John, the FA’s Director of International Relations, Corporate Affairs and Co-Partner for Equality, Diversity and Inclusion, explained.
John also explained how the introduction of VPN services hides the IP address and makes the FA’s task more difficult or almost impossible.
“That has been a consistent and ongoing challenge in trying to cross down some of the abusers,” she said.
While the Premier League clubs parted ways with Social media, the introduction of taking a knee was all about fighting racism and online abuse existing in the country. After the Euro 2020 final, Twitter and Facebook had to take some challenging steps to avoid the hatred existing in the comments section of Saka, Rashford, and Sancho.
Gareth Southgate, the FA and Prime Minister Boris Johnson have condemned racist online abuse sent to a number of England players after the Euro 2020 final loss to Italy
— Sky Sports Premier League (@SkySportsPL) July 13, 2021
Christopher Bouzy of Bot Sentinel, looked deeply to dig out the online abuse thrown at the three players who missed England’s spot-kicks against Italy.
“We looked at the three players, there were some fake accounts, inauthentic accounts but… it would take days for us to weed through to see what is real and what are accounts that are just out there to cause trouble,”
And the constant monitoring has helped the FA find some culprits and file legal charges against the guilty. While Rashford’s Instagram post described how dejected he was after a shambolic evening, the post also suggested that he won’t stay silent against racism.
Although the post was posted off Rashford’s account, the entire footballing world proudly stood behind him nodding to his words and fighting against racism.