National and regional Green parties in the United Kingdom have condemned online racism aimed at three English football players of colour following the national team’s defeat in a penalty shootout to Italy.

A caricature depicting the players who missed penalty kicks against Italy titled “our three lions”. Source: England FA Facebook page

Highs and lows

After an excellent tournament, both the Italian and English national football teams were set to square off in a final on July 11th, 2021. Following an exhilarating fixture, the contest came down to a bone-chilling penalty shootout. However, three English players failed to convert their penalty kicks resulting in an Italian victory.

The following day, Marcus Rashford, Jadon Sancho and Bukayo Saka all English players of colour who missed their spot kicks, suffered a surge of online racial abuse on various platforms. Reactions from the English Football Association, politicians and analysts soon condemned not just this incident, but the larger scale of the ongoing presence of racism in football.

The English FA were one of the first entities to show support for their players on social media.

The FA reacting to the abuse received by some of its players

Green reactions

The South East Green regional party reacted strongly on their social media accounts following the comments aimed at Rashford, Saka and Sancho. Their message was concise and direct:

The racism, violence and destruction seen after yesterday’s result has been simply sickening. There should be no place for it in or out of football.

South East Green Party via facebook

Similarly, the Green Party of England and Wales expressed their support for the three players online. Following the racist messages written on a mural of player Marcus Rashford in Manchester, the party supported those who covered the vile remarks with messages of love and admiration.

Solidarity with Rashford, Sancho, Saka, and everyone feeling the impact of racism this week, and every week.

This was the message expressed on Facebook by the England and Wales Greens in reaction to the mural incident

The South East Greens were outraged when it was known that Conservative MP Nathalie Elphicke criticized Rashford’s activism work. According to a BBC article, GB news learned of a message sent by MP Elphicke to other Members of Parliament suggesting that Rashford should focus more on football and less on politics. Rashford has long fought against child poverty and hunger in the UK. The Torry MP has since apologized for her comments.

Racism in football

Fighting racism in European football has been a long battle. Despite the symbolic taking of the knee prior to matches in Europe being declared a sign of solidarity to fighting racism and dating back to the actions of NFL player Colin Kaepernick, the battle is clearly not over.

Support continues to be shown in fighting racism throughout the Football world. Players opted to take a knee before football matches during the Tokyo summer Olympics. The list of payers who suffered racial abuse or alleged racial abuse in Europe include the cases of Chelsea’s Antonio Rudiger, former Istanbul Basaksehir player Demba Ba and many others. The Rudiger case involved chants by fans while the Ba incident involved alleged racial remarks made by an official.

With the recent incidents that occurred in England, this highly politicized issue is likely to make more headlines in the future and is far from resolved.

Guy Vertinsky

Guy is currently pursuing a BA Honours in Political Science at Concordia University in Montreal. His main interest areas are Canadian and Latin American politics. He enjoys studying the political setting and dynamics of various group relations, movements and intergovernmental affairs. Guy is the current President of the Canadian Political Society of Concordia University. When he is not working or studying he enjoys traveling, playing sports and the great outdoors.

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