Sun | Oct 2, 2022

Pushback against racism

Online petitions launched in support of black players targeted after England’s Euro defeat

Published:Saturday | July 17, 2021 | 12:06 AM
England’s Raheem Sterling celebrates his side’s 2-1 win at the end of the Euro 2020 semi-final match between England and Denmark at Wembley stadium in London on Wednesday, July 7.
England’s Raheem Sterling celebrates his side’s 2-1 win at the end of the Euro 2020 semi-final match between England and Denmark at Wembley stadium in London on Wednesday, July 7.
A view of a digital mural of England players, Marcus Rashford, Jadon Sancho and Bukayo Saka in Manchester, England, Wednesday July 14. The mural was unveiled on Tuesday after the three black players missed penalty kicks in the final moments of the national
A view of a digital mural of England players, Marcus Rashford, Jadon Sancho and Bukayo Saka in Manchester, England, Wednesday July 14. The mural was unveiled on Tuesday after the three black players missed penalty kicks in the final moments of the national football team’s European Championship loss to Italy and received racist abuse on social media.
1
2

Two online petitions and one crowdfunding initiative have been launched in the aftermath of a torrent of racial abuse levelled at three of the black England players who took part in the penalty shootout with Italy in the Euro 2020 Cup final last Sunday at Wembley Stadium, north London.

Marcus Rashford, Jadon Sancho and Bukayo Saka were the players targeted by vile racists on social media, after they missed penalties in the 3-2 shootout defeat against England.

The first petition, titled ‘Ban racists for life from all football matches in England’, was launched on change.org by three friends: Shaista Aziz, Amna Abdullatif and Huda Jawad. By Monday, it had surpassed its target of 15,000 signatures.

The message on the petition platform read: “As multiracial football fans, we finally feel represented by this anti-racist and inclusive England team. We could not be more proud or inspired by our magnificent team and by their talent, bravery, leadership and love for all.

“Gareth Southgate’s England team plays for all of us. Their vision is an inclusive vision and this matter more than ever - it’s why we feel proud of this team and why they’re so cherished and loved by many of us. There should be no room for racists and bigotry in football or society.

“We are calling for the football association and the government to work together now to ban all those who have carried out racist abuse, online or offline, from all football matches in England for life.”

A second petition on change.org expressed similar sentiments when it was launched under the heading: ‘Stop online racist abuse of black sports players’. Also setting a target of 15,000 signatures, it had reached over 12,400 by Monday afternoon.

Its message board read: “The crushing disappointment for these young men in losing the final will play out in their minds for a long time to come. If that isn’t bad enough, the racist onslaught that followed on social media was heinous and will greatly exacerbate their mental health.

“Commendable efforts to raise and tackle the issue of racism in football have been done recently; notably by affected players such as Raheem Sterling. But more needs to be done by the powers that be, namely Twitter, Instagram and Facebook. These platforms provide an easy way for racists to perpetrate their sick abuse to an extremely wide audience.

“It is a travesty that far lesser harmful content is removed yet racist posts continue to appear at the drop of a hat. These big three organisations need to do far more to remove these posts immediately and report these racists to the police, in view of prosecuting them.”

The third online initiative hitting out at the racial-abuse onslaught was launched on GoFund Me by social commentator and black rights activist Patrick Vernon, who said he was organising the fundraiser for British Future, a non-profit charity.

TEAM PRIDE

Titled ‘End racism in football’, Vernon said in his petition message: “We are all proud of the English team for reaching the finals of the Euros. The team was built on the vision from Gareth Southgate of inclusion, diversity, respect and high performance.

“It was a sad end that the penalties shootout didn’t work in our favour, but this is no excuse for the outrageous language and behaviour used on all social media platforms in denigrating black talent who are role models for us all.

“That is why I’m raising money for three respected organisations working in the field of anti-racism and celebrating multicultural Britain: Operation Black Vote, founded by Lord Simon Woolley, celebrating its 25th anniversary; British Future, founded by Sunder Katwala; and Kick It Out, English football’s equality and inclusion organisation.

Vernon, who is also a Windrush campaigner and co-author of the book 100 Great Black Britons, said the target is £10,000 and the funds will be distributed to these organisations to help with their anti-racism campaigns.

George Ruddock