A few days ago, England had created history, making their first ever appearance in a European Championship finale. But the team's painful half-century wait for a major title goes on. On Sunday, Italy won the Euro 2020 tropy, beating England in a penalty shootout. But as some celebrated and others mourned, a section of the internet took to trolling and abusing the players.
Now, these were not Italy supporters crowing over the losing team. Irate netizens targeted Marcus Rashford, Jadon Sancho and Bukayo Saka after they missed penalties during the game, eventually prompting an official response. And while some targeted the coach and officials deciding the penalty lineup, others were content to abuse the three players from behind their screens.
"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," read a post from the official England Football Twitter handle.
The Football Association (English football’s governing body) also released a statement calling out the "online racism" and discrimination that had taken over social media.
"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 their platforms free from this type of abhorrent abuse," the FA added.
Needless to say, social media is now divided, with many coming forward to defend the players even as others rush to tweet out poisonous comments. While many gave their posts a racist slant, others took a potshot at the 'political' leanings of the players. "Honestly though Marcus Rashford, penalties not politics from now on, aye?" suggested one user.
"These three young players are so significant in their community. England had 130 minutes but it didn't win. Why would you criticize these young boys after helping you reach the final stage. So disgusting," countered another.