As one of the, many, unfortunate England football fans, I, along with millions of others, agonisingly watched Hodgson’s team get knocked out of Euro 2012 last night, on penalties. On seeing Ashley Young rattle the crossbar with his attempt, and seeing Ashley Cole’s feeble shot saved by Buffon; my initial thoughts were of despair for the team and sympathy for the two players. This, however, was not the case for a number of other England fans.
In the midst of the football-related trends on Twitter, were numerous posts attributing England’s defeat to ethnicity and skin colour. During a tournament that has been marred with accusations of racism from the Polish and Ukrainian football fans as highlighted in BBC Panorama’s documentary ‘Euro 2012: Stadiums of Hate’, these tweets have shown that racism is still a very real, and equally unnerving issue here in Britain too. Such tweets referred to Young and Cole as ‘niggers’ and ‘monkeys’ along with claims that ‘England doesn’t need black penalty takers’.
It will be interesting to see if the media shine as much of a light on it, but I’m doubtful that they will. It certainly reinforces the idea that FIFA’s anti-racism campaign is still nothing more than just a slogan of ‘Unite Against Racism’ or ‘Let’s Kick Racism Out Of Football’. Some of these issues are rooted deep in areas of society, and FIFA and the English Football Association have got lots of room for improvement in stepping up these campaigns.
England fans should be proud that we have some diversity in our team and that our best players can come from any background. They shouldn’t be blaming them when things go wrong like these idiotic tweeters (twitterers?) have done. On the flip side of these racist tweets, however, were users that were outing these racists and reporting them to the Metropolitan Police Twitter account, which was encouraging to see. As well as the tweets posted here, many more racist tweets can be found on Twitter relating to the football, but many have already been cautiously deleted.
Hopefully, the aftermath of the tournament will at least result on greater emphasis on tackling racism in football, which can, in turn, help tackle racism in wider society. It’s clear to see, though, that the problem is not just isolated to Polish and Ukrainian fans, but is apparent with a minority of English fans as well.