Chasing digital footprints: The outpouring of racist abuse online against three players in the England football team that lost to Italy in the Euro Cup final on Sunday looks set to boomerang on at least some of those who posted the messages. The social media posts are, of course, written records of the abuse and where it’s coming from. The police in London said on Monday that they are investigating, and that “enquiries are already being progressed”. What the racist brigade did was ugly, but also silly.
Setting a standard: In an initiative that could set an example, the League Two side Leyton Orient announced that it had identified a fan who had launched racist abuse against the black England players on Twitter. The club announced it had decided to ban the fan for life from its games. “The supporter in question’s actions on Twitter were alerted to the club late last night and action has been taken swiftly to issue a banning order,” the club said.
Kane lashing: England captain Harry Kane has followed up manager Gareth Southgate in condemning the racists who abused the three England players. “If you abuse anyone on social media you’re not an England fan and we don’t want you,” Kane said. He said the players “deserve support and backing, not the vile racist abuse they’ve had since last night”. That was after Southgate described the abuse as “unforgivable”. The strong reactions point incidentally to the level and the extent of the abuse.
Showing their true colours: A mural in Manchester honouring Marcus Rashford, one of the three England players to have missed a penalty, has been defaced and plastered with graffiti. The face on the mural was dabbed with black paint, and racist graffiti written across it. Some of the racist abuse written over the mural also mentioned Bukayo Saka, another player to have missed scoring. The police are investigating a case of racially aggravated damage. But the defacement of the mural has led also to an outpouring of support for Rashford on social media.
‘Take a stand, not just a knee’: The level of abuse of the non-white England players appears to give some credence to a remark by Home Secretary Priti Patel that moves like taking the knee against racism are “gesture politics”. Taking the knee has become a symbolic stand against racism particularly following the killing of George Floyd in the US last year. The England team took the knee through this tournament. But that clearly did little to convince their fans against a launch of racist abuse that came on a public scale unseen before after the final. In a foretaste of what was to follow, many fans jeered the England team for taking the knee.