- Black English soccer players were subject to racism after missed penalty kicks in the Euro final.
- Usain Bolt spoke out against the mistreatment of those players in a television interview.
- He called the racism “unfair” and “horrible.”
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Usain Bolt spoke out against soccer fans racistly abusing three Black soccer players who missed penalty kicks for England in the Euro 2020 final.
England national soccer team players Bakayo Saka, Marcus Rashford, and Jadon Sancho have all been targeted by online trolls with racial slurs after Rashford missed his penalty and the other two had their shots saved during the final on Sunday, as England lost to Italy in a shootout.
Bolt said that the treatment of those players is “horrible” and “unfair” during an interview with Reuters on Wednesday.
-Reuters (@Reuters) July 14, 2021
“You can be upset at a person for missing because we are human, but if you’re going to bring race into it, then it has no place in football or just in general,” Bolt said. “First of all, that’s horrible to know… for me, it’s very tough to see these things. As an African and a Black person, I can tell it must be rough on them, and you can’t blame these guys. They don’t make the decision of who takes the penalties.”
The players were targeted only with racially charged taunts and insults, including monkey emojis and racial slurs after the game, both by anonymous accounts and those bearing what appeared to be users’ real names. The abuse has also manifested in physical vandalism. A mural of Rashford was defaced with racist graffiti following the match.
“It was very unfair, and I can’t believe this is where football is headed,” Bolt said. “I’ve loved football through my entire career, I’ve followed all these players … so it tough to see something like that going on.”
Bolt is one of many international celebrities who have condemned the racist abuse against these players. Other figures who have spoken out are Adele, Tom Holland, Tom Felton, and Orlando Bloom.
The Football Association, English soccer’s governing body, said in a statement it was “appalled by the online racism that has been aimed at some of our England players on social media.”
British Prime Minister Boris Johnson has made a public effort to put pressure on major social media platforms, Facebook and Twitter, to do a better job at policing the content on their sites to prevent the spread of racial prejudice.
“He said the abuse was utterly disgraceful and had emerged from the dark spaces of the internet,” a spokesperson representing Johnson said during a press conference on Tuesday. “We expect social media companies to do everything they can to identify these people.”