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(Sports Illustrated photo)

British Prime Minister Boris Johnson has sent a message to those responsible for racist abuse and harassment of England’s three black players who missed penalty kicks in Sunday’s loss; “those responsible should be ashamed of themselves”.

On Sunday England’s national team played in its first International finals in more than 50 years. The finals were held in their home stadium at Wembley in front of more than 65,000 fans. At the end of extra time the score was tied 1-1 and the match went to penalty kicks to determine the champion. The final three penalty kicks for England were taken by three of the squad’s Black players, and they were all misses.

The racial abuse began almost instantly.

Prince William, who serves as president of England’s Football Association and was in attendance, wrote on Twitter after the game that he was “sickened by the racist abuse” aimed at the three Black players. “It must stop now and all those involved should be held accountable”.

A mural of one of the three players who missed a penalty kick, Marcus Rashford, was defaced shortly after the England loss. The mural was put up in his hometown of Withington in recognition of Rashford’s amazing work to tackle child food poverty in his country. Several swear words were written across the mural along with the word “Saka” talking about Bukayo Saka, another Black player that missed a penalty kick. 

Statement from governing body

Soccer’s governing body in England, the Football Association, released a statement Monday condemning the racial abuse on social media following Sunday’s loss:

We strongly condemn all forms of discrimination and are appalled by the online racism that has been aimed at some of our England players on social media. 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. 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. Social media companies need to step up and take accountability and action to ban abusers from their platforms, gather evidence that can lead to prosecution and support making the platforms free from this type of abhorrent abuse.

Marcus Rashford responds

In a social media post on Monday, Marcus Rashford responded to the hatred and thanked his fans for their support.

“I’ve grown into a sport where I expect to read things written about myself. Whether it be the colour of my skin, where I grew up, or, most recently, how I decide to spend my time off the pitch.”

“I can take critique of my performance all day long, my penalty was not good enough, it should have gone in but I will never apologize for who I am and where I came from,” he added.

“I’m Marcus Rashford, 23 year old, Black man from Withington and Wythenshawe, South Manchester. If I have nothing else I have that.” 

Player accuses government official of pretending to be disgusted

England player Tyrone Mings accused UK Home Secretary Priti Patel of pretending to be disgusted by the racial abuse.

The England players, along with many other teams, would often take a knee before each game or early in the match to show a sign of unity in the fight against racism in the sport. Patel described taking a knee as “gesture politics”.

After the loss and abuse on social media, Patel said “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’s clear that England, just like much of the world, still has a long way to go to combat racism towards people of color.

Mike Creef is a fighter for equality and justice for all. Growing up bi-racial (Jamaican-American) on the east coast allowed him to experience many different cultures and beliefs that helped give him a...