As a nation, football is what brings us together. The love, support and pride for our country is what unites us – and the Euro 2020 Championships have clearly revealed that.
However, we have also taken a lot of hits in the past, which meant that this particular major football tournament led to an even louder cry of ‘It’s coming home’. We marked this England team as successful history-makers… the last time ‘it came home’ was 55 years ago when we brought home the World Cup. The call for the football team to be revolutionary heroes who crush the opposing team, along with everything in their way, removes the true love and passion of the game. It creates a long-lasting sting.
When this passion for success and victory in the football realm overrides the powerful symbol of harmony, that is where we have an issue. When we no longer sit back and simply enjoy a football game with family and friends because we are so focused on the prize or booing the other side and showing our animosity towards them, then, there is a problem.
We have seen many examples of how this has caused issues. Firstly, the amount of online racial abuse and slander which was sent to Bukayo Saka, Marcus Rashford and Jadon Sancho after the final against Italy for missing their penalties is a clear one. The fact that arrests were made, petitions were signed, and a Marcus Rashford mural had to be re-painted and covered with supportive notes shows how a stronger stance is needed against these issues.
In addition, The Professional Footballers’ Association joined the condemnation, saying those responsible “represent the worst of us.” They added that “It causes hurt to all the other fans who view online hate, and it will inevitably live with the next aspiring generation of young players.”
As a nation, we need to re-focus our motives. We should enjoy watching football because it unites us and brings us joy – we take pride in who we are. Conversely, this does not imply that we disrespect other teams or hurl abuses at our own team when we lose. By doing so, we hurt others, kill the passion and destroy our love for football.
The World Cup is on the horizon and we need to work together to put an end to hate, supporting our team with the utmost respect that they deserve.