Trolled England star’s emotional open letter
Amid the racial backlash following England’s loss to Italy in the Euro final, England forward Marcus Rashford has expressed regret and apologised for missing a penalty during the agonising shootout defeat.
Rashford, along with Manchester United teammate Jadon Sancho and Bukayo Saka, copped racial abuse online in the hours after the draining loss. All three players missed from the spot in the final sequence of the tournament’s decider, with Rashford and Sako entering the game from the bench at the very end of extra time.
The racist abuse, which was condemned as “unforgivable” by England coach Gareth Southgate, has led to calls for social media companies, such as Facebook and Twitter, to do more in hunting down the perpetrators of the abuse.
Italy claim Euro 2020 title
All three players targeted are part of a young England squad that has been widely praised for its diversity and social conscience. Rashford, for one, has been at the forefront of a campaign against child poverty, which convinced the British government to restore free lunches for thousands of poor children amid the coronavirus pandemic. The England star took to social media in an emotional letter 24 hours after the demoralising experience.
“I don’t even know where to start and I don’t even know how to put into words how I’m feeling at this exact time.
“I’ve had a difficult season, I think that’s been clear for everyone to see and I probably went into that final with a lack of confidence.
“I’ve always backed myself for a penalty but something didn’t quite feel right. During the long run up, I was saving myself a bit of time and unfortunately the result was not what I wanted.
“I felt as though I had let my teammates down. I felt as if I’d let everyone down. A penalty was all I’d been asked to contribute for the team, I can score them in my sleep so why not that one?
“It’s been playing in my head over and over since I struck the ball and there’s probably not a word to quite describe how it feels. Final. 55 years. One penalty. History.
“All I can say is sorry. I wish it had gone differently.
Italy beat England in Euro final shootout
“Whilst I continue to say sorry, I want to shoutout to my teammates. This summer has been one of the best camps I’ve experienced and you’ve all played a role in that. A brotherhood has been built that is unbreakable. Your success is my success. Your failures are mine.
“I’ve grown up in 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 apologise for who I am and where I came from.
“I’ve never felt prouder than wearing those three lions on my chest and seeing my family cheer me on in a crowd of 10s of thousands. I dreamt of days like this.
“The messages I’ve received today have been positively overwhelming and seeing the response in Withington had me on the verge of tears. the communities that always wrapped their arms around me continue to hold me up.
“I’m Marcus Rashford, 23-year-old, black man from Withington and Wythenshawe, South Manchester. If I have nothing else, I have that.
“For all the kind messages, thank you. I’ll be back stronger. We’ll be back stronger.”
In recent years, soccer authorities in England have joined with the players in trying to tackle racism both within the sport — at every level — and in society as a whole.
The English FA said it will give the players affected what support it can and will press on authorities for the “toughest punishments possible” for anyone found to have been responsible for the abuse.
“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,” it said.
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Social media companies, it said, need to “step up and take accountability and action to ban abusers from their platforms” to ensure that their platforms are “free from this type of abhorrent abuse.”
Facebook, which owns Instagram, said Tuesday AEST it tried to remove harmful content as quickly as possible and encouraged people to use the tools it offers to block abuse.
“We quickly removed comments and accounts directing abuse at England’s footballers last night and we’ll continue to take action against those that break our rules,” it said in a statement.
Twitter said the “abhorrent racist abuse” has no place on its platform, adding it removed more than 1,000 tweets and permanently suspended a number of accounts for violating its rules.
“We will continue to take action,” Twitter said, “when we identify any tweets or accounts that violate our policies.”
The British government is planning new laws to enshrine a new legal duty of care on online companies to protect users from harm, including people receiving abusive comments, threats and harassment.
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