As if trashing Leicester Square and other areas of central London, the ticketless forcing their way into Wembley Stadium, and more displays of gratuitous violence was not enough cretinous behaviour for one evening, after Marcus Rashford, Jadon Sancho and Bukayo Saka missed spot kicks during that penalty shoot-out, out came the racist abuse.
The FA was unequivocal in its condemnation, telling that it was “appalled” and adding “We could not be clearer that anyone behind such disgusting behaviour is not welcome in following the team … We will do all we can to support the players affected while urging the toughest punishments possible for anyone responsible”. Then came a telling coda.
“We will continue to do everything we can to stamp discrimination out of the game, but we implore government to act quickly and bring in the appropriate legislation so this abuse has real life consequences”. Hello Government. And talking of Government, both alleged Prime Minister Alexander Boris de Pfeffel Johnson and his Benidorm holiday rep Home Secretary Priti Patel, had something to say about that racist abuse.
Bozo harrumphed “This England team deserve to be lauded as heroes, not racially abused on social media. Those responsible for this appalling abuse should be ashamed of themselves”. Ms Patel added “I am disgusted that [England] players who have given so much for our country this summer have been subject to vile racist abuse on social media. It has no place in our country and I back the police to hold those responsible accountable”.
The problem here was that both of these less than totally august individuals had already excused the racist boo-boys by telling them it was fine to boo when the England team took the knee before kick-off. It was a dangerously ambiguous stance, and the further England advanced at Euro2020, the more unsustainable it became. Bozo and Ms Patel wanted to please everyone. But you don’t play that game with racist bigots.
Because that empowers the pond life to abuse England’s black footballers, to tell them that, providing they are successful, and while they keep putting away the penalties, that they are OK to play for England, and call themselves English, but then, as soon as they miss a spot kick, tell them that they are no longer English. And worse.
England’s players carried on taking the knee. Gareth Southgate continued to back them. Yesterday evening, Italy’s players took the knee, too. What happened after the penalty shoot-out shows why they did it, and that they are right to keep on doing it..
As Musa Okwonga put it, “Hate is a strong word. But the racist relying on black English footballers to bring them glory as if they were their servants, then turning on them as soon as they fell short of their dreams, have my deepest contempt”.
Tackling racism requires leadership. Southgate is showing it. And Bozo is not.
Enjoy your visit to Zelo Street? You can help this truly independent blog carry on talking truth to power, while retaining its sense of humour, by adding to its Just Giving page at