England’s defeat on penalty kicks in the final of the European soccer cup caused a barrage of online racist attacks against Black players who missed goals in the shootout.
The Euro 2020 soccer final between Italy and England played at Wembley stadium Sunday night was nerve-racking for fans of both teams. Italians were very concerned when England scored their goal just two minutes into the game. England fans started worrying when Italy drew even in the second half.
And on both sides, all fans were anxious about who would win when no team managed to score in extra time and the penalty shootout became inevitable.
England was the favorite at the start of the game, as it was playing at home in front of tens of thousands of fans, and fans were convinced the team would manage to bring the cup home for the first time. Italians were hoping the cup would return to Rome after 53 years.
In the end, Italy won the shootout 3-2 when three of England’s Black players missed their spot-kicks. A barrage of racist attacks on social media followed, which led England’s Football Association to release a statement Monday morning condemning the racist abuse of its players.
The statement said, “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."
It added that “anyone behind such disgusting behavior is not welcome in following the team.”
The FA said it would do everything “to support the players affected, while urging the toughest punishments possible for anyone responsible.”
England manager Gareth Southgate, who shouldered the responsibility for the team’s loss, praised his players and condemned the online slurs.
“They should be, and I think they are incredibly proud, of what they’ve done. For some of them to be abused is unforgivable, really," said Southgate.
The England team has been praised for the high-profile, anti-racist stance it has maintained during this Euro championship and before.
Prime Minister Boris Johnson posted his comment on Twitter, saying, “this England team deserves to be lauded as heroes, not racially abused on social media.” He added that “those responsible for this appalling abuse should be ashamed of themselves.”
London police have opened an investigation. Twitter, for its part, said it has taken down more than 1,000 tweets and suspended several accounts used to post racist abuse directed at the England players.