Marcus Rashford reacts after missing a lot against Italy in the Euro 2020 final. File / Reuters
When you have politicians like Priti Patel who think it was a ‘politics of gestures’ when the players got down on their knees on the football pitch against racism, you know the psyche of the people who elected them to power ( “English Football Fans Rally Behind Marcus Rashford in Racism,” July 13, Gulf Today).
The racial slurs thrown at Rashford along with two other team-mates Jadon Sancho and Bukayo Saka, after the trio of black players missed penalties in the Euro final, should come as no surprise.
But there is another side of the coin which cannot be ignored. Rashford, who was raised by a single mother, didn’t have a privileged childhood and grew up amid hunger and poverty, has done more off the pitch than Tory politicians.
He launched a campaign to better take care of disadvantaged children at school in the midday meals to help them fight against poverty. Patel and others condemned the abuse. A fine exercise in diplomacy. Nothing more than that.
Rashford’s statement to the press, on the other hand, is sorry but biting. “My penalty was not good enough, it should have gone in but I will never apologize for who I am and where I come from.”
The defeat is however very painful for England. The Euro final penalty loss to Italy at Wembley was the fourth time in five that England have crashed like this in popular tournaments.
There is no doubt that Rashford, Sancho and Saka will bear this regret for a long time to come. But the Euro finals have gone far beyond football now.