Following England’s penalty shoot-out defeat at the hands of Italy in last Sunday’s Euro 2020 final, disturbing reports began to emerge of racist abuse directed towards England trio Bukayo Saka, Marcus Rashford and Jadon Sancho on social media.
The three players named – all of whom are black – failed to score from the spot in the decisive shoot-out at Wembley and each were subjected to vile messages in the aftermath of the result.
The shameful behaviour was quickly condemned by public figures and organisations, including UK Prime Minister Boris Johnson.
Johnson tweeted on Monday morning: “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.”
Later, Johnson vowed to take action to tackle such unacceptable conduct. On Tuesday afternoon, he revealed the first in a package of measures to help deal with online racism in football.
Speaking during Prime Minister’s Questions, per The Metro, the 57-year-old informed the House of Commons that he would be updating football banning orders to incorporate those found to be spreading racial hate – and warned would-be offenders that they would no longer be permitted to attend matches when identified.
“I want to thank each and every one of them [the England squad] for what they did, their incredible campaign they ran in the Euro 2020 championships, and they do represent the very best of our country,” Johnson began.
“I repeat that I utterly condemn and abhor the racist outpourings that we saw on Sunday night, and so what we’re doing is today is taking practical steps to ensure that the football banning order regime is changed.
“If you are guilty of racist abuse online of footballers, then you will not be going to the match, no ifs, no buts, no exemptions and no excuses.”
This strong stance from the UK government is definitely a step in the right direction and, frankly, is long overdue.
The Prime Minister has been accused in the past of not coming down hard enough on this issue. However, following the Euro 2020 final, the nation has made it clear that is no longer willing to tolerate such behaviour.
There is no place for racism in football, sport or any other walk of life. Hopefully, these revised banning orders prove an effective weapon in the fight against racial discrimination.