Campaigners in Leeds voice 'disgust' at racist abuse of England players after Euro 2020 defeat

Campaigners in Leeds have joined in the country-wide condemnation of the “disgusting” racist abuse of England players on social media after their Euro 2020 final defeat.

Monday, 12th July 2021, 4:45 pm
Marvina Newton, of Black Lives Matter Leeds. Picture James Hardisty
Marvina Newton, of Black Lives Matter Leeds. Picture James Hardisty

Following Sunday’s dramatic showdown, when Marcus Rashford, Jadon Sancho and Bukayo Saka failed to find their target in the penalty shootout, the trio’s social media players were quickly flooded with racist comments.

The Prime Minister, Duke of Cambridge and the FA were among those who spoke out to condemn the “sickening” behaviour - a feeling echoed strongly by anti-racism campaigners in Leeds.

Marvina Newton, one of the organisers of Black Lives Matter Leeds said she was reduced to tears by racist posts she read on social media this morning.

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Professional basketball player Danny Evans. Picture: Tony Johnson

“It’s just disgusting to know that this is 2021 and we are still in danger”, she said, adding: “When we are winning, we are British. When we are losing we are immigrants.”

She said: “They were directing it at me, at my son, at my friends.

“That I only matter when I do good. The only time black people can be celebrated is when they are exceptional. Failure is not an option if you’re black.”

Marvina stressed the impact that racism has on people’ mental health.

Heather Nelson, CEO of Black Health Initiative. Picture: Jonathan Gawthorpe

“Some young people are scared to go out today. It’s just horrible things that are going on right now. We are just worry for what’s going to kick off.”

She added: “I need my allies more than every right now to call out the racism.”

Leeds’ Danny Evans, a professional basketball player and racial injustice activist, spoke to the Yorkshire Evening Post about of his disappointment in the “awful” abuse the players received.

“As an athlete myself, I’ve represented my country and I feel for the players - from a sporting standpoint but also from a reaction standpoint with this racist abuse.

The England team pictured during the Euro 2020 final against Italy. Picture: PA

“I feel like we are immigrants when we fail but then royalty when we prevail. That’s the way it feels in sport, especially when it’s on such a global scale.

“Had they scored the penalties, they would have been cheering them and putting up statues. One twist of fate and all of a sudden it’s racist abuse.

“It’s awful. It’s disappointing. It’s completely changed the whole sense of unity that was surrounding the team around the last month. It’s completely flipped.”

Heather Nelson, chief executive of Leeds’ Black Health Initiative said the abuse was “disgusting” but added: “It doesn’t surprise me.”

She said: “I’m pleased that the players actually didn’t let the racism affect them, outwardly. Their resilience is to be applauded.

“They know that if they are good they are tolerated, not just by fans but by the press as well.”

Heather described the racism on social media as "horrendous".

"It shows that we have gone backwards in time.

“Through social media people can hide behind it, being anonymous.

“And it’s worrying because mentally it has a negative impact on people, not matter how strong or resilient they appear.

“It is mentally draining to consistently be faced with racism, whether overtly or covertly.

“I hope the FA has some kind of support for these young black and brown players but also for their white teammates as well, who are supporting them - because it affects them as well; it affects the whole team.”

It comes as the Yorkshire Evening Post continues its Call It Out campaign which has shared real life stories of the harm caused by online abuse.

The campaign also urges our readers to play their part in reporting abusive messages and calls for greater action by social media companies to tackle the issue.

Following Sunday's abuse, an FA spokesman said: "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.

"We could not be clearer that anyone behind such disgusting behaviour 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 FA called on the Government to bring in legislation so this abuse has “real life consequences” and for social media companies to take accountability and action to ban abusers and gather evidence for prosecutions.

The Metropolitan Police condemned the "unacceptable" abuse and confirmed they will be investigating the "offensive and racist" social media posts.

The official Twitter account for the England men's and women's national teams offered support to the victimised players, tweeting: "We stand with our players."

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