The Conservative Party is being blamed for the online racist abuse some of England’s top football players have received following the team’s loss to Italy in last night’s UEFA Euro final.
A string of football icons, MPs and House of Lord Peers have called out Boris Johnson and certain members of his Cabinet for failing to condemn fans who previously jeered England’s players for ‘taking the knee’ before matches and the subsequent effect it has had.
Sayeeda Warsi, a Tory Peer, hit out at Priti Patel after the home secretary said earlier she was “disgusted that players who have given so much for our country this summer have been subject to vile racist abuse on social media”.
“Priti, we as govt, as Conservatives, need to think about our role in feeding this culture in our country. If we ‘whistle’ & the ‘dog’ reacts we cant be shocked if it barks & bites. It’s time to stop the culture wars that are feeding division,” Ms Warsi tweeted, adding: “Dog whistles win votes but destroy nations.”
Meanwhile, England football pundit and former player Gary Neville went after the PM on Sky News. He questioned headlines claiming Mr Johnson “condemned racist abuse against England players” by asking the broadcaster: “Is that the same prime minister who, a few weeks ago, said it was okay for people to boo players who were trying to promote equality [by taking the knee]?”
No bank holiday for England reaching Euro final, says No 10
Downing Street has said a bank holiday is not being considered to celebrate England reaching the Euro 2020 final.
“We’ll be talking to the FA to identify a suitable way for the Prime Minister to thank the players and coaching staff for their efforts,” Boris Johnson’s official spokesman said.
“But a bank holiday is not something that is being considered.”
It comes after more than 300,000 people signed a petition calling on the PM to grant a one-off day off to mark the historic match between England and Italy on Sunday, which saw the latter win on penalties.
The number of signatures soared to this number in less than 24 hours since the petition was launched on Thursday.
Johnson and Patel should be ‘embarrassed and ashamed,’ says Labour
Shadow culture secretary Jo Stevens said if she was the PM or the home secretary she would be “embarrassed” and “probably ashamed” at the words they used and their conduct around players taking the knee.
When asked if she believed Boris Johnson was responsible for the action undertaken by some England fans on Sunday night, she told the BBC’s World at One programme: “I think that his words and his lack of action send a message to people who feel it’s okay to be racist.
“You can argue about whether there’s a direct causal link between the two but all of us in what we do, what we say, what we don’t do, there are consequences to that, particularly if you’re the prime minister and you’re in a position of such responsibility and leadership in the country.”
She then appeared on Times Radio, arguing that “criminal sanctions for senior executives” of social media platforms are needed to stop racist posts after the abuse of England’s penalty takers.
Tory MP apologises for comments about Rashford
A Tory MP has apologised after suggesting Marcus Rashford should have spent more time “perfecting his game” than “playing politics”.
Natalie Elphicke made the comment in a message to fellow MPs after the striker missed a penalty in the Euro 2020 final on Sunday night.
His failure to convert from the spot – along with misses from Jadon Sancho and Bukayo Saka – meant England lost to Italy in a penalty shootout.
Mr Rashford previously waged a high-profile campaign to persuade the government to provide free meals to vulnerable youngsters throughout the school holidays during the coronavirus pandemic.
In a late-night private message, Ms Elphicke said: “They lost – would it be ungenerous to suggest Rashford should have spent more time perfecting his game and less time playing politics?”
But the Dover MP apologised after the message was reported by GB News, saying: “I regret messaging privately a rash reaction about Marcus Rashford’s missed penalty and apologise to him for any suggestion that he is not fully focused on his football.
“Onwards to the World Cup and I look forward to Marcus Rashford’s contribution at that time.”
Recap: Here’s a reminder of what Gary Neville had to say about the PM
No 10 rejects claim PM’s ‘letterbox’ comments incited racism
Downing Street has rejected pundit Gary Neville’s accusation that Boris Johnson promoted racism by describing Muslim women as looking like “letterboxes” in a newspaper column before he became leader of the Conservative Party.
“I would utterly reject that claim. The prime minister set out this morning his response to some of the awful comments that we’ve seen,” Mr Johnson’s official spokesman said.
Asked about the former England footballer’s allegation that Mr Johnson and other ministers suggested it was fine to boo players taking the knee, the spokesman said simply this “is not accurate”.
“The prime minister was clear that he wanted to see everyone getting behind the team to cheer them on. He made that clear on the 11th, before England’s first game,” he added.
Opinion: ‘As an immigrant, football has shown me the vile depths of Britain’s racism’
Chine McDonald has written a powerful piece for our Voices desk about her experiences of the racism attached to football in Britain.
“There’s only one occasion in which I don’t want England to win; and that’s when they play Nigeria. I was 10 years old in 1994 when my dad took us to Wembley to watch the two teams play each other. As a Black family, we felt conspicuous sitting with England fans, and had to hide our disappointment when David Platt scored the winning goal.
As a football-obsessed immigrant child, I felt the struggle between supporting my heroes donning the jerseys of my adopted country versus those players from my birth country, who had names that sounded like mine; I felt the conflict of being at home in two worlds yet uncomfortable in both.
US writer Ekemini Uwan puts it well when she describes: “The psyche of the colonized mind; always at war with itself.” Perhaps my childhood love of football – which has since waned – was one way in which I could feel accepted by my new home, swapping Premier League sticker books in the playground with white boys to show that I too belonged.”
Read it here:
PM criticised for failing to condemn racism earlier in Euro tournament
Boris Johnson’s stand against the racist abuse aimed at some of England’s players has not gone down very well.
The prime minister, who tweeted to say “this England team deserve to be lauded as heroes, not racially abused on social media. Those responsible for this appalling abuse should be ashamed of themselves”, has been accused of hypocrisy for failing to support the team’s decision to take the knee before Euro matches.
In hundreds of replies to Mr Johnson, angry users responded to say his “flippant” approach to dealing with racism was one of the reasons people felt comfortable sending the abuse they do to England’s black players.
“And yet you failed to support them in taking the knee. You belittled it as a gesture, which implied it wasn’t necessary or important. You jump on the narrative as it suits you – this isn’t leadership,” one woman, Rachael, wrote.
Another questioned the PM’s motives for saying this on Twitter. “Words on your Twitter account don’t mean anything. We need action!” she wrote.
Rashford mural vandalised with racist graffiti, police say
An official probe has been launched after a mural honouring footballer Marcus Rashford was defaced following England’s defeat to Italy in the Euro 2020 final on Sunday night, police have announced.
Graffiti — which Greater Manchester Police (GMP) described as “racially aggravated” — appeared on the artwork, in Withington, Manchester, after the match.
It was not immediately clear what was written but a local man, Ed Wellard, was pictured covering up the words with bin liners.
GMP said it would be working alongside Manchester City Council and Akse, the street artist who created the powerful image of the Manchester United and England striker, “to ensure this graffiti is removed and the mural is repaired as soon as possible”.
Read our full report:
MP hits out at social media platforms for lack of racist monitoring
Damian Green, a Conservative MP and member of Parliament’s Digital, Culture, Media and Sport Committee, said he believed it would be “not too difficult” for social media platforms to do more to monitor racist comments made on their websites.
He told BBC’s World at One radio programme: “Their algorithms are incredibly good, and are able to target adverts at every one of their billions of users.
“I don’t think it would be that difficult, for example, to check on every use of the monkey emoji, and if it’s being used in an unacceptable context – as clearly it was over the past 24 hours – then take those posts down immediately and see if you can find out who the person who sent them was and get them off your platform.”