Everyone across the globe had been watching England’s surprising progress through the exciting Euro 2020 tournament. From conquering their 2018 World Cup ghosts against Croatia to getting two goals against Germany and beating the tournament’s sweethearts Denmark, it was getting clearer by the day that it would indeed be “coming home.” And for the first time in 55 years, this current England squad managed to get to a major tournament final defying expectations from not just their fellow countrymen but the whole world.
However, getting to a final was just most of the puzzle done and finding the final piece to complete this whole fairytale was certainly going to be the biggest task. In the end, it all fell to a toss of a coin as England had nothing else but to have their Euro 2020 fate decided over a penalty shootout. It doesn’t take rocket science to figure out exactly what happened after the first kick from the 18-yard area on the Wembley pitch. But what followed is still what baffles many till now.
It is clear that England, a predominantly white nation has had a hard time with racism across various areas. But the reactions across the various social media platforms against the three young black players, Jadon Sancho, Marcus Rashford and Bukayo Saka were certainly shocking. At a time when you would expect everyone to protect these players, there were many who couldn’t help themselves but use the loss to abuse them all based on the colour of the skins.
Reports and clips from London also began coming out showing the chaotic reactions by crowds outside the stadium with many being violent against Italian fans as well as people of colour.
Luckily, many did rise up with encouraging statements for the trio while also calling out the racist comments being thrown at them. This was especially important for young Bukayo Saka who at just 19 had shown maturity and character on the pitch beyond his years throughout the tournament.
Football can be so cruel.
But for your personality. For your character. For your bravery…
— Arsenal (@Arsenal) July 11, 2021
Completely understand questions over why Saka took the 5th penalty. I was shocked.
But as Arsenal fans, we also know why: because he is that good, & because he’s utterly fearless.
It takes a special player & a special person to carry this burden. Fortunately, Saka is just that. pic.twitter.com/dNCCEyISYt
— gunnerblog (@gunnerblog) July 12, 2021
Failure is a fact. It’s how we respond to it that shapes our character. Thank you @BukayoSaka87 @MarcusRashford @Sanchooo10 for the character you’ve already shown and for being the heroes you already are. We love you. pic.twitter.com/042xfNv4pH
— Elizabeth Day (@elizabday) July 12, 2021
Marcus Rashford; 23, raised £200m to feed kids year. Jadon Sancho; 21, opened up new football pitches in London suburbs.
Bukayo Saka; 19, a voice for the youth of football today & helping local communities. We are so proud of you @MarcusRashford, @Sanchooo10, @BukayoSaka87. pic.twitter.com/SZbXc2V9eT
— Mike (@TheRealVonHorst) July 11, 2021
At the same moment, many around the world also wondered why a 19-year old player had to be the one to step up to take the most decisive penalty kick with experienced players in that squad.
“For Saka to have the destiny of the country on his shoulder is too much.”
“Many times players that should be there run away from their responsibility.”
“Where was Sterling? John Stones? Where was Shaw?”
— talkSPORT ??????? (@talkSPORT) July 12, 2021
? "You've got to get in front of this young kid and say listen I'll step up before you."
Roy Keane was fuming that England's senior players allowed 19-year-old Bukayo Saka to take the deciding penalty. https://t.co/ydrD5wxUuX
— SPORTbible (@sportbible) July 12, 2021
By the end of the tournament, the trophy lift was certainly a bittersweet moment for football fans across the world trying to consider how gutted the three youngsters must have been feeling after it all. But there is no doubt that they all did their country proud for already making history, a feat that other former English squads with great quality were never able to do.