The sports world is reeling Monday morning after an onslaught of racist vitriol was spewed on social media toward members of England’s soccer team following Sunday’s Euro 2020 final, in which England was beaten by Italy in penalty kicks.
All three missed, sealing the victory for Italy.
It was a bitter defeat for England, which jumped out to an early 1-0 lead in the game and hasn’t won an international championship since the 1966 World Cup.
Almost instantly, Instagram and Twitter became inundated with waves of racist abuse aimed at the young stars, all of whom play for top-flight clubs in Europe.
The outpouring of hate has received widespread condemnation.
“We’re disgusted that some of our squad — who have given everything for the shirt this summer — have been subjected to discriminatory abuse online after tonight’s game,” the national team tweeted. “We stand with our players.”
Prince William, who is the head of England Football Association, tweeted that he was “sickened” by abuse, calling it “abhorrent.”
Unfortunately, the racist outpouring highlights a well-documented problem within European soccer that has yet to be solved.
Earlier in the tournament, Austrian forward Marko Arnautović was suspended one game for racist comments made to a North Macedonia player.
In February, the Premier League launched its “No Room For Racism” campaign aimed at stopping racism across the game as well as making career opportunities in professional soccer more accessible for people of color.
The English team itself decided to take a stand against racism during the tournament, taking a knee before all its games as a show of solidarity with the Black Lives Matter movement.
It did so before its championship tilt with Italy as well, with players of the Italian side also taking part in the gesture.
England was met with boos when it started doing this at the beginning of the tournament and even failed to gain the initial support of British Prime Minister Boris Johnson.
After sharp criticism, Johnson changed his tune, urging the entire country to get behind the team.
The oft-controversial leader also spoke out against the hate speech following the match, tweeting that the players should “be lauded as heroes, not racially abused on social media.”
“Those responsible for this appalling abuse should be ashamed of themselves,” Johnson added.
However, some have continued to chastise the prime minister’s leadership, saying that his support for the team kneeling should have been absolute from the start.
“[English manager] Gareth Southgate and the players a few weeks ago, about five days on the trot told us that they were taking the knee to promote equality and it was against racism,” former English international coach Gary Neville told Sky News on Monday. “The prime minister said it was OK for the population of this country to boo those players who are trying to promote equality and defend against racism; it starts at the very top.”