Marcus Rashford: MBE, football player, free school meal campaigner, literary activist, and victim of racial abuse. After the Euro 2020 final, England players Rashford, Sancho and Saka were all subjected to awfully racist comments on their social media accounts. Abusive language was also defaced upon the mural of Rashford in Withington, Manchester. This is a prime example of how Britain can be associated with racism, and how the UK has a hard time acknowledging this.
As an empire, Britain has always had a hard time admitting their racism and problematic colonial past.
When England wins a game, these black men are considered truly English, one of our own, who we are proud to have in our national football team. But when they lose, it’s back to trolling, hateful comments, and outlets of racism occurring, that BIPOC know only too well. As an empire, Britain has always had a hard time admitting their racism and problematic colonial past. The nation’s school curriculum demonstrates this, with its lack of admittance of participation in the slavery trade, and colonisation of the world, when teaching children history.
Rashford’s mother came up with the mural’s quote, ‘Take pride in knowing that your struggle will play the biggest role in your purpose.’ Rashford’s previous struggles are vast; from being brought up by a single working class mother, who skipped meals in order to feed her children, to being a black man in today’s society. Marcus Rashford certainly found his purpose in life, not only becoming a world class footballer, but becoming the youngest person to lead The Sunday Times Giving list: 125% of his wealth was donated to charity. But one struggle that he will always deal with, is the expanse of racism that still occurs in 2021. This then begs the question of what are we going to do to limit this hatred?
If English football fans cannot deal with loss without turning to racism, they should not be considered true supporters.
As a start, I believe we all need to accept the subconscious racism that is taught to us from an early age. I was born a white woman, so I know that I am more privileged than others without having earned any of it. White privilege, which comes from being born as a white person, should be used in reverse, in order to be allies with the BIPOC community; calling out other racists, allowing black voices to be heard, and acknowledging what that privilege allows us to do in life. What we can also do is continue to listen, read, and observe sources that teach us how to really understand people of colour’s experiences in the white man’s world.
We need to continually support movements such as Black Lives Matter and Show Racism the Red Card if we want racism out of football forever.
If English football fans cannot deal with loss without turning to racism, they should not be considered true supporters. If a player taking the knee causes abhorrence from the crowd, they should not be allowed to attend games. Prime Minister Boris Johnson says that ‘fans who racially abuse footballers online will be banned from grounds’, which seems like a step forward in the right direction. But when this law is coming from a man who has been proven to use racist comments himself, it is clear that more needs to be done in the UK as a whole. These people in power are hypocrites, and their intentions are questioned, with England player Tyrone Mings also rightly accusing Priti Patel of ‘Gesture Politics’.
The defacement of this mural was quickly covered with messages of love and support for Marcus Rashford. This is a beautiful gesture; however, racist acts like this are not fixed with a post-it note covered on top. We need to continually support movements such as Black Lives Matter and Show Racism the Red Card if we want racism out of football forever. Rashford, Sancho, and Saka all deserve better, and it is up to us to make sure they do so. Report the racist comments, let employers know their employees are racist, or attend a protest. Do more than just watch racists think this discourse is allowed in our nation’s greatest sport.
Illustration: Patrick McDonald on Flickr