In a heartbreaking twist, it turns out that a shared human connection over sporting events was not enough to overcome the former British Empire’s centuries-old legacy of racism and bigotry. Following England’s loss to Italy in the big soccer contest Euro 2020, the team’s three Black players who missed penalty kicks — Marcus Rashford, Jadon Sancho, and Bukayo Saka — faced a torrent of thousands of racist posts on social media. A mural of Rashford, whose efforts raising £20 million for child hunger pushed the U.K. government to offer free school meals during the summer, was also vandalized in his hometown of Manchester.
Various public figures have condemned the racist abuse. Prince “We’re Very Not a Racist Family” William, the president of the English Football Association and heir to a throne built on wealth amassed by plundering and exploiting colonies around the world, tweeted: “I am sickened by the racist abuse aimed at England players after last night’s match.”
Prime Minister Boris Johnson, who last month both sides-ed spectators booing players for taking a knee as a protest against racism, tweeted: “Those responsible for this appalling abuse should be ashamed of themselves.”
London’s Metropolitan Police, which has played around in the racial profiling and harassment sandbox, vowed to investigate the number of “offensive and racist social media comments,” calling the harassment “totally unacceptable.”
This is far from the first time that soccer players in Europe have faced racism from both fans and match officials. But wow, just wow. Who could have predicted this in the year 2021, post-Ted Lasso, in a country where institutional racism is no longer a real problem, according to a report by its Commission on Race and Ethnic Disparities? Just shocking.