News Writer Ella Kipling reports on Solihull MP Julian Knight’s support for a petition calling for racists to be banned from football stadiums.

Images by Ian Wilson

Solihull MP Julian Knight has backed a petition which calls for racists to be banned from football stadiums, stating that he is ‘appalled’ by the hateful comments directed at England football players. 

Following England’s defeat in the UEFA European Football Championship final against Italy, three of the penalty takers for England; Bukayo Saka, Marcus Rashford, and Jadon Sancho, received racist abuse on social media. 

After goals from Harry Kane and Harry Maguire, Rashford, Sancho, and Saka stepped up to shoot, and missed their penalties, resulting in Italy’s victory over England. The three players – the youngest of whom, Bukayo Saka, is only 19 years old – were subjected to racist comments and hate speech on social media.

‘social media companies, once alerted to this abuse, have an acute responsibility to immediately take it down’

Knight, the chair of the House of Commons Digital, Culture, Media and Sport Committee, condemned the ‘racist posts’ and hopes that those responsible ‘face the full force of the law.’ 

The Metropolitan Police confirmed that the comments would be investigated and stated on Twitter that such abuse is ‘unacceptable’ and ‘will not be tolerated.’

Boris Johnson, the Duke of Cambridge, Sadiq Khan and Gareth Southgate, among others, have spoken out in condemnation of the racist abuse. Many urged social media platforms to do more to combat racism on their sites.

Knight said that ‘social media companies once alerted to this abuse have an acute responsibility to immediately take it down,’ and that all those who suffer at the hands of racists ‘deserve better protections now.’ 

The petition, which called for Boris Johnson, the Culture Secretary Oliver Dowden, and The Football Association to ‘ban racists for life from all football matches in England’, has garnered over one million signatures. Knight said that ‘if it is possible’ to ban those who post racist abuse on social media from football for life then ‘good riddance.’ 

In addition to the abuse on social media, a mural of Rashford in Withington was vandalised, though it was quickly covered up with hundreds of messages of love and support from fans in the local community. Rashford shared a heartfelt statement where he said that while he can ‘take critique’ of his performance ‘all day long,’ and that his ‘penalty was not good enough,’ he will never apologise for who he is and where he came from. 

Saka, who took the final penalty, has said that he ‘knew instantly’ the kind of hate he was going to receive following the match and that it is a ‘sad reality’ that ‘powerful platforms are not doing enough’ to stop online abuse.


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