The Euros Tournament of 2021 for 3 weeks was a triumph of hope and excitement. It brought the nation together and 31 million people watched the final.
For much of that time, the nation watched, cheered and were proud of the team, white and black players. They were especially grateful to Raheem Sterling who had scored in the first two games. Without him we would not have made the quarter final, the semi-final or the final.
Saha was a revelation. His runs down the right wing we a joy to behold. Jack Grealish appeared to become the new pin up boy and the country cheered is appearances, and Kalvin Phillips was a stable stalwart force in midfield.
Black athletes make an incredible contribution to British sport – and if anyone cares to check the journey to the Euro they will note strong contributions to help us even become a part of the Euro Championship.
THE MATCH – Euro 2021 Final
English fans suddenly dared to hope. Football was really coming home we all thought. Alcohol had been flowing freely throughout the day. We travelled through central London 5 hours before kickoff and there were England male fans shouting, singing and causing mayhem on the trains – all of them complete with cans of beer or bottles of something stronger. Isn’t it illegal to drink alcohol on the London Underground
But the final told a different story. The goal early in the first half, may have lulled us into a false sense of security that it was about to be Germany all over again. After all we had just beaten Germany 4-0 in the semi-final. Fans were getting jingoistic and egos were flying high across the nation.
But the second half of the final told a different story. Italy went for every ball – and kept the ball for long periods of time. The first half of overtime was the same. At one point the stats of passes showed Italy had completed 539 passes and England 203.
Italy were skillfull and bullies. The picture of the Italian captain who seemed to attempt to chock of Saka with his own shirt was shocking. And all he got was a yellow card. For English players who are used to slightly more sportsmanlike conduct in the premier league – this was an awakening – especially made worse by a referee who seemed to like to turn a blind eye to misdemeanors and blatant fouls. This picture will go down in history.
Raheem Sterling was well and truly neutralised during the game. There were always 3 or 4 Italians surrounding him, and any balls sent to him drew a swarm of five or six blue shirts to snuff out any danger. They had obviously noted him as a danger in previous games and did not let him breathe.
So at deadlock after extra time – what next? The dreaded penalties. England’s history with penalties is not good. Once we saw who the final 3 penalty takers were – we had to reflect on why in God’s name would Gareth Southgate make those choices.
a) Were the black players being set up to take the fall; as a diversion from reasons why we lost the final.
b) Could it be that other players did not want to take the penalties, and the 5 that did step up were the most willing and courageous individuals.
c) Could it be that those particularly players did so well during penalty practice in training that Southgate wanted them to shine on a world stage.
But it was not to be – and judging by how the whole match was dominated by Italy – one can only say the better team won. England did well to hold the score line to 1-1, for it was the Italian’s failed to capitalise on several open goal chances.
And I don’t claim to be a football expert, but bringing on people just to take a penalty seems like you are using them. Why could Rashford and Sancho not have had at least had 10 minutes on the pitch.
We knew what would follow – as night follows day. Racist abuse would follow on Social Media. These are the days when Social media is so easy to use – it facilitiates the nastiest kind of statements or emojis at the click of a button. Imagine the abuse Gascgoine or Beckham or Gareth Southgate received in their day after a tournament miss or sending off. It would have been ten times worse if Social Media existed.
Black People live with racism. We have no choice. Sometimes it is worse than other times. Sometimes we can brush it off like water of a duck’s back. Sometimes it hurts to the core.
The strength that we have to have needs to be commended. Our mental health resilience is collectively out of this world.
But someone said to me – don’t worry – they are all millionaires anyway. They don’t have the ordinary stresses of us mere mortals who are grinding slowly for a living with pay packet rewards that do not meet or just about meets our needs or those with no jobs at all, who wonder if they can pay the bills or afford the next meal.
But no matter how rich a person is, racism still hurts. Ask Oprah. Ask Will Smith. Ask Barack Obama. Ask Gabriel Union. Ask Meghan Markle. And it hurts kind people who hear it happening to others, or see it in front of their own eyes – black, white or Asian. It hurts us all. We feel the pain of the person suffering the abuse.
At this point I have to say thank you to all those who are supporting the lads and defending them, and somehow trying to encourage them. You outnumber the haters by 200 to one. So thank you.
THE TECHNOLOGY – Can Racism on Social Media be stamped out?
Yes it Can. I used to be an IT Manager. I managed a campus network with 1700 users.
We had an incident when one of our users targetted a celebrity online, and they reported it to the police. I was asked to find out who it was.
It had happened 5 days before. I was able to track down who it was. I found out the time, and date, and which computer it came from, and who had logged on at that time. It took a few hours. If this could be done 24 years ago – much more now.
If you open a new social media account – they ask for either an email or a telephone number. The mobile telephone number can be traced to you via phone masts. The email and the actual posts can be to your bedroom or home where the posts are coming from. Right to the door. So lets stop pretending that tracking anoynmous posters cannot be done. It can.
Does the Police, or Social Media need extra powers to track down and punish? Can they track down who, when, where precisely to the second that any abuse was sent. The question is do they have the will to do it. And once the person is tracked down – what then? Banning an account may just mean another 5 accounts are set up by the same person. But IP addresses can be blocked. But then with VPN that can be bypassed. But that again can be addressed. There are no excuses.
Public exposure is a great deterrent, followed by a fine, and perhaps prison for the worse or repeat culprits. It needs to be shown there are consequences for race hate. And no – this is not freedom of speech. This is abuse. Laws need to be created to solve this issue – but are our politicians on the same page. Do they have the collective will to make changes?
To the Prime Minister Boris Johnson and Priti Patel who on the following day, saying “Oh this racism is terrible”, – we say check your own rhetoric. Racists have been stocked by your own words. They loved that you refused to condemn racists who booed taking the knee. You add fuel to the fire with these off hand comments. Make your mind up which side you are on.
WORLD STAGE & BEYOND
To be on the world stage – comes with agony and ecstacy. Let there be no doubt about it. While focus may be on the 3 players being racially abused, let us also remember the others in the squad who may appear invisible but who are deeply hurt too, because they wanted to bring it home for England.
We salute you team. All of you. Have a well deserved break and come back next year to do it all again. Continue to hone your craft with your clubs and we will be watching you and cheering you on throughout the year. And we take this opportunity to mention you all by name.
THE ENGLAND PENALTY PROBLEM
We would suggest a way forward with England penalties for the future. It cannot be rocket science.
Put the players through a two week bootcamp of nothing but penalties and sessions with Psychologists and Hypnotherapists. Add to that Radical Motivational brainwashing. The players must come out fearless and defiant.
It is not for us to glorify racists and repeat their atrocities. This is the oxygen of publicity they crave and we are not giving it.
Instead we are showing below, examples of kind messages sent – by people of all nationalities. These were in the majority – I would say 99%. There are some beautiful message on Social media and we have included just a snapshot from Twitter – sent 11 and 12 July 2021.
I visited Twitter following the match – expecting a horrible torrent. But people were overwhelmingly supportive of the 3 players. They were also puzzled, like me about Gareth’s decision of who took the penalty takers. There were hundreds of thousands of supportive tweets. So guys – ignore the haters. Let the Police deal with them – and the Social Media giants.
As the saying goes – get lemons make lemonade. Enjoy the showcasing of beautiful messages of support that have come for our 3 Kings, Rashford, Sancho and Saka. We want them to know we love them and look forward to them dominating the premiership in the coming season.
They had the courage to stand up and be counted. They could have said no to the Boss. They knew the risks. If a team does not have soldiers willing to defy the odds and go the extra mile, you have a weak team. Well done Rashford, Sancho and Saka.
******************* Excerpts from Supportive Tweets *********************
The Tricky Reds Red circle
One kick doesn’t define you or your career. What happened last night is insignificant compared to all you’ve achieved. Moving to a foreign country, become one of the best creators in Europe, winning the Pokal for your team to moving to the biggest club in England. Head up king!
Hey Jadon , you probably won’t read this message but remember that Ronaldo missed some important chances for Portugal when he was young, including penalties.He learned from his mistakes and got better.I’m 100% sure, you will too.Separation is permanent. Keep believing in yourself
Proud of you King❤
England fans are 100% behind you Jadon!! We love you and you have had a great tournament, hold your head up high and be proud you got to and played in a final! The future is exciting for this amazing group of players and yourself!!
We love u Jadon
I’m a Scot but no-one with any feelings could not feel the heartbreak for guys like Sancho, Saka & Rashford, you should all hold your heads high after your whole performance during this tournament. Any racist comments sent to these brave guys should be condemned and dealt with.
Just amazing #BlackTwitter #BlackExcellence
Community we have to support our children.
Jadon I hope you know how proud we all are of you and what a credit you are to your family. They must be swelling with pride. My children look up to you young lions and I couldn’t be happier that they do. Hold you head up and stay strong
Head up king we love youRed heartRed heartRed heart
The moment has passed. It is done. You should be proud of how far you came. It was a brilliant tournament. Let this final setback inspire you and not define you. It is in your power. March forward. Head high.
I was devastated for you last night. I’m Scottish, but would have had no problem with you scoring a penalty that won it for England. You’re a hero on and off the pitch and that squad will go on to do big things over the next decade. Onwards and upwards Marcus!
Marcus. I just want to say what an INSPIRATION you are. Not just as a footballer but as a person. I saw maradona miss a penalty. That means anyone can miss. Keep going and keep inspiring!
England fans are 100% behind you Marcus!! We love you and you have had a great tournament, hold your head up high and be proud you got to and played in a final! The future is exciting for this amazing group of players and yourself!! Red heartFlag of EnglandThumbs up
Replying to @MarcusRashford
“The ultimate measure of a man is not where he stands in moments of comfort and convenience, but where he stands at times of challenge … Martin Luther King. You’ll be fine my boi. Just let the haters hate.
Replying to @MarcusRashford
That was a really tough ask to put you on just for the shoot out. Much more pressure than if you’d been able to get settled into your play. Be proud. You’ve been a vital part of the team and have a huge following of admirers whose hearts went out to you last night.
Replying to @BukayoSaka87
There’s no way on earth you’ll see this but you have done yourself, your family and your country proud all summer long. You will go on to lift trophies for club and country. Ignore any idiots, millions of us are fully backing you. Red heart
Colin Lee Berry
It takes someone special to step up to take a penalty like that. Use this to lead England to World Cup victory next year (I am a spurs fan). You should be proud of your tournament
Unlucky my brother, you were one of the best players for England this tournament, your an amazing player and got more to come, keep your head up bro Blue heart
You didn’t miss, the keeper saved…. you can be so proud of everything you’ve achieved in this tournament, you’ll bounce back stronger and have an amazing career! Clapping hands sign
Love you Buyako! Two hearts
Saka, U can hold ur head up high and stand proud kidder u hot us one step closer that we have for a long time. Next stop the World Cup u have an amazing future ahead of u thanks for putting all ur heart and effort into one of the best Euros we’ve ever had.
Much love little man
Replying to @BukayoSaka87
I’m 50 and have told my kids about Italia 90 and Euro 96. What you and this team have given the nation this summer has eclipsed these, has been magnificent, joyful and extends beyond football. I hope you realise this once the dismay of the save by the world’s best keeper fades..
D. S. Grant
First published 12 July 2021