Harry Kane joins the chorus as England's players unite against racism



England captain Harry Kane has joined the voices speaking out against the racial abuse received by several of his teammates in the wake of Sunday’s Euro 2020 final defeat to Italy.

Marcus Rashford, 23, Bukayo Saka, 19, and Jadon Sancho, 21, have been particularly targeted by racists who Kane has blasted and told that they are not wanted as England fans.

“Three lads who were brilliant all summer had the courage to step up and take a pen when the stakes were high,” tweeted Kane.

“They deserve support and backing not the vile racist abuse they’ve had since last night.

“If you abuse anyone on social media you’re not an England fan and we don’t want you.”

Rashford, Saka and Sancho missed penalties in the final, but other players also received racial abuse, including Jude Bellingham, who didn’t play a single minute in the final.

Sadly, racism has been a hot topic at this year’s tournament for England after the players were booed by a section of their own fans for taking the knee in an anti-racist stance in games prior to the tournament.

The ‘hypocrisy’ of some government officials

Some of the politicians who refused to criticise such behaviour and even pandered to it a few weeks ago have now been condemning the abuse received by players after the final. Defender Tyrone Mings has been one of those to call out such hypocrisy.

“You don’t get to stoke the fire at the beginning of the tournament by labelling our anti-racism message as ‘Gesture Politics’ and then pretend to be disgusted when the very thing we’re campaigning against, happens,” tweeted Mings in response to home secretary Priti Patel‘s tweet condemning social media abuse.

Prime minister Boris Johnson similarly condemned the abuse, but former England international Gary Neville pointed out on Sky News just how empty his words were, just like Patel‘s.

Gareth Southgate and the players a few weeks ago, about five days on the trot, told us they were taking the knee to promote equality and it was against racism,” said Neville.

“The prime minister said it was OK for the population of this country to boo those players who were trying to promote equality and defend against racism. It starts at the very top.

“I wasn’t surprised in the slightest that I woke up to those headlines; I expected it the minute that the three players missed.”

Neville‘s thoughts are no doubt shared by many and it is that inevitability which makes the situation so sad. As Chelsea and England right-back Reece James tweeted, the reaction to the defeat has been quite revealing.

“We learn more about the society when we lose, far more than we learn when we win,” wrote James.

Enough is enough

The question now is what actions will be taken to ensure that lessons are truly learnt from this.

Online abuse has been a recurring theme this season in the Premier League, too, with clubs and players repeatedly calling it out and asking for harsher punishments and stricter policing of online platforms.

In that sense, this week’s incidents are the latest in a series, but perhaps their high-profile nature might help propel some change.

The message from England‘s players and manager has been clear and consistent, but it seems it is still not getting through to all fans.

The extent of the abuse in the wake of the final has led to a plethora of statements from clubs, footballing authorities, players’ unions and anti-discrimination organisations.

The common theme is that the government and social media companies are not doing enough to combat abuse, whether online or in stadia.

Former England rugby international Ugo Monye hit on a key point speaking on BBC Radio Five Live, commenting that too many people, including authorities, remain in denial about racism.

“The government don’t do enough, they don’t say enough,” said Monye.

“It’s hard to fix a problem until you acknowledge the problem.

“And at the moment you’ve got a lot of people unfortunately in senior positions, and members of the public, who deny that [racism] is a thing.”

Perhaps this, finally, could be the moment of reflection that British society so badly needs in order to begin to face up to its own shortcomings, because enough is enough.