English fans wear flags as they leave the designated fan zone at Trafalgar Square in London on July 11, 2021, after Italy won the Euro 2020 football championship final against England at the Wembley Stadium. (Image: AP Photo/Matt Dunham)
England descended into despair on July 11, as the football-mad country lost to Italy after reaching its first major tournament final in more than 50 years. England failed to clinch the Euro 2020 championship title in a penalty shootout at London’s Wembley Stadium.
The team lost 3-2 on penalties after a 1-1 draw. England's Marcus Rashford, Bukayo Saka, and Jadon Sancho were targeted by racist abuse on social media after all three failed to score their spot-kicks during the shootout.
The players had not responded to the incident at the time of writing this report.
“The FA strongly condemns all forms of discrimination and is appalled by the online racism that has been aimed at some of our England players on social media,” The Football Association said in a statement hours after the incident.
“We could not be clearer that anyone behind such disgusting behavior 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.”
The English football association said it would “continue to do everything we can to stamp discrimination out of the game, but we implore the 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 their platforms free from this type of abhorrent abuse,” it added in its statement.
In Pictures | Euro 2020 Final: Italy conquer England in England to become European champions
The Metropolitan Police said in a tweet that it was “aware of a number of offensive and racist social media comments being directed towards footballers following the Euro 2020 final. This abuse is totally unacceptable, it will not be tolerated and it will be investigated”.
The English team's official Twitter handle said: “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. We stand with our players.”
England captain Harry Kane said his side's penalty shoot-out defeat was “the worst feeling in the world”.
“Penalties is the worst feeling in the world when you lose,” Kane told ITV. “Anyone can miss a penalty. Penalties are penalties. We went through a process. The boys did everything they could, it just wasn't our night.”
The violent scene at Wembley
Besides the racist abuse faced by players on social media, images and video footage also showed some English going on a rampage at the Wembley Stadium – the venue of the Euro 2020 finale.
Some drunken fans outside had thrown projectiles – including rucksacks, flares, cans, and traffic cones – through the air and chanted aggressively at rival supporters.
“Our policing operation for the Euro 2020 final is drawing to a close. Thank you to the tens of thousands of fans who had good spirits and behaved responsibly. We made 49 arrests during the day for a variety of offenses. We will have officers on hand throughout the night," the Metropolitan Police said on its ‘Events’ Twitter handle.