Three Black England international footballers became a target of racial abuse on social media following Sunday’s defeat against Italy in the Euro 2020 final. The “Three Lions” lost 3-2 in a penalty shootout after a stalemate in regulation time.
And after penalty misses by Jadon Sancho, Marcus Rashford and Bukayo Saka, a section of irate fans left racist comments as well as banana and monkey emojis on their Instagram accounts. During the tournament, England players notably took the knee prior to games in an effort to raise awareness about racism. But that did not stop the three Black England internationals from being racially abused online after they missed their respective penalties.
The racist online vitriol the Black footballers received was strongly condemned by British Prime Minister Boris Johnson in a Tweet on Monday. “This England team deserve to be lauded as heroes, not racially abused on social media,” he posted. “Those responsible for this appalling abuse should be ashamed of themselves.”
In a statement, the Football Association (FA) of England also strongly condemned the abuse and called on social media platforms as well as the government to take the necessary steps to mitigate such occurrences. A spokesperson for the association also said they’ll offer the necessary support to Sancho, Rashford and Saka, Sky Sports reported.
“The FA strongly condemns all forms of discrimination and is appalled by the online racism that has been aimed at some of our England players on social media,” the statement said. “We could not be clearer that anyone behind such disgusting behaviour is not welcome in following the team. We will do all we can to support the players affected while urging the toughest punishments possible for anyone responsible.”
The FA added: “We will continue to do everything we can to stamp discrimination out of the game, but we implore the government to act quickly and bring in the appropriate legislation so this abuse has real life consequences.
“Social media companies need to step up and take accountability and action to ban abusers from their platforms, gather evidence that can lead to prosecution and support making their platforms free from this type of abhorrent abuse.”
This is not the first time Rashford has been a target of racist abuse by online trolls. In May, the Manchester United forward revealed he received “at least 70 racial slurs” on his social media accounts following their defeat against Villarreal in the Europa League final. The 23-year-old reported the incident to the police
In response to the recent abuse targeted at the trio, the owners of Instagram announced they had recently implemented stricter measures to tackle racial abuse on the photo and video sharing platform, BBC reported. The social media platform also confirmed the racist comments against the Black players had been removed and the accounts from which they came from had also been deleted.
“No one should have to experience racist abuse anywhere, and we don’t want it on Instagram,” a spokesperson for Facebook said. We quickly removed comments and accounts directing abuse at England’s footballers last night and we’ll continue to take action against those that break our rules.
“In addition to our work to remove this content, we encourage all players to turn on Hidden Words, a tool which means no one has to see abuse in their comments or DMs.
“No one thing will fix this challenge overnight, but we’re committed to keeping our community safe from abuse.”
Social media platforms have been facing mounting pressure to do more to combat racism on their respective platforms. In April, a section of football clubs, players and other athletes boycotted social media for four days in an effort to urge companies to do more to tackle racism and sexist abuse, BBC reported.