The prime minister should have done more to defend the England team against a racist minority
The country awoke on Monday to greyish July skies and a sense of sporting disappointment. Overnight, the England team Twitter account had published a nicely turned message seeking to capture the sense of national togetherness that grew during Euro 2020. Football, it read, was not just about winning trophies, it was also about solidarity: “It’s community. It’s unity. It’s home.”
These admirable sentiments will reflect the feelings of the vast majority of those who watched the final between England and Italy. Unfortunately, they risk being undermined by an outpouring of online racist abuse directed at Bukayo Saka, Marcus Rashford and Jadon Sancho, the three players who missed penalties in the shootout won by Italy. It also emerged that a mural of Rashford in Manchester had been subjected to racially aggravated damage. The mural, erected close to where Rashford grew up, had been commissioned in recognition of the player’s remarkable campaigning on child food poverty. Taken together with footage of large groups of ticketless fans breaching security and causing chaos at Wembley, and violent scenes in Leicester Square, it all adds up to a depressing end to an inspiring sporting interlude.