England Football Manager: Gareth Southgate.
Yet again, in Wembley last night, England found itself in a penalty shootout with Italy. England had battled and done the nation proud, in getting to the final stage, of the Euros. Harry Kane scored, as you would expect, from a seasoned player like the England Captain is. It was touch and go, in the penalty shootout, between Italy and England. However, when the black or mixed-race players stepped up to take the penalties, (chosen specifically, for this, by Gareth Southgate), all missed or had their penalty shot saved, by an Italian goalkeeper and a giant of a man, Gianluigi Donnarummer. Bukayo Saka 19, Marcus Rashford 23, and Jadon Sancho 21 were the unfortunate penalty missers.
What has followed since the match, has been a tirade of racial abuse, towards these players. It is natural, unfortunately, that abuse, will be expressed by angry and disappointed England fans. Abuse is not right, but understandable. No doubt, white players too, will get online abuse for missing penalties, and had social media existed, in Gareth Southgate's day, no doubt he would have come in for abuse, too.
However, when you are black or mixed race, the abuse attacks your race. It is another stick, with which so-called football fans, can abuse you. Gareth Southgate has sprung, to the defence of those young, unfortunate, English players. Southgate has taken full blame, for the penalty takers. Gareth said that he is to blame, for their selection. Gareth also, said, that in training, they were the go-to men despite their young age and inexperience. Southgate has also condemned, in the strongest terms, online abuse towards these players.
Describing, the abuse, as "unforgivable". Mr. Southgate explained that "It's, not just what we stand for" and we are a "beacon of light". People, according to the England Manager, are a team that "people can relate to" and the "national team stands for everybody". Mr. Southgate admitted, however, that he "cannot control abuse, we can only set an example".
Prince William, who was present at the match, described the abuse as "sickening" and that such behavior is "totally unacceptable". Also, the Prince stated, "we should be ashamed of ourselves". Prime Minister Boris Johnson, also, joined in the condemnation saying "Those responsible should be ashamed of themselves". Although, of course, many would question Boris' sudden conversion, to anti-racism. Sir Keir Starmer, called the abuse "a disgrace" and that the abusers, "don't represent us".
Culture Secretary, Oliver Dowden said that the social media companies, "need to up their game". A mural of Marcus Rashford, dedicated to the footballer's campaign, to feed hungry children, has been defaced. The FA and the Police have been quick to condemn this. Twitter, as if in answers to Mr. Dowden's comment, has suspended 1000 Twitter users and banned many others.
Is taking the knee correct? Well, for those doing it, it is. Are the footballers, in the England squad raving Marxists, as they do a gesture, (as far, they are concerned, that is anti-racist), no, not necessarily. However, by taking the knee, in doing the black-power salute, they are representing an extreme ultra-left organisation in BLM, (Black Lives Matter). No doubt, in the BLM movement, there are genuine people who want to overcome racism. However, if you read the info on their website, they are a racist, far-left nasty, organization. And, to many who oppose the extreme mantra of BLM, this is one reason why many oppose footballers taking the knee. Are all those booing the taking the knee, racist? Yes, possibly, football, has always had a measure of far-right supporters. But to call them, all racist is perhaps unfair, some just want to see football played, end of. They do not want their enjoyment, of a game spoiled by overpaid sportsmen, making political gestures. LGBTQ+ Rainbow Flags have also, been displayed, by Manuel Neuer (German goalkeeper) and by England Captain, Harry Kane. The Ukraine team, also, sported a map of their country on their shirts incorporating Crimea, which Russia took off them, some time ago. Sportspeople like Marcus Rashford, in his campaign against kids going hungry, are to be applauded. Christiano Ronaldo, (who may or may not, return for next year's World Cup in Qatar), despite his lavish life, is supposed to be the most charitable footballer, ever. But all these things have taken place in their own time and off the field, and maybe, that is where such gestures, should stay.
Gareth Southgate has to be applauded for his actions, belief, and words, in getting the England team to a final. Yes, it didn't end in an England victory, and yes, to fans, players, and to Southgate himself, it will be gutwrenching. Every footie fan in England will be in mourning, for whatever period, in our loss to Italy. The Italian team, even though you may question their style, of play, (for example, Giorgio Chiellini, pulling on Saka's shirt, which caused him to fall backward or the fouling of Grealish, by Jorginho), have to be congratulated in their victory.
Finally, to all England fans, yes it will be 55 years of hurt, but there are good things, which came out of this match. In Southgate, we have a capable manager, in this England team, we have a balanced set of players who are young and willing, plus older players, with experience. The team despite differences, gell well together and they have shown they have the intelligence, strength, and stamina to overcome, any team. England got to a final, which doesn't happen much. Yes, we lost but based on England's performance, which England could have won, (had things been different, perhaps it has happened, in another reality!), England has something to build on, as we go forward, to the World Cup in Qatar.
ISHIKA MEHERE from NAGPUR on July 12, 2021:
The abuse is really sad. Hope things get better. Thank you for the article Nick ,it enlightened on the issue much better.