Euro 2020: Boris Johnson’s condemnation of racism in football is hypocrisy

 Euro 2020: Boris Johnson’s condemnation of racism in football is hypocrisy

Boris Johnson’s condemnation of racism in football is hypocrisy

LONDON, 13 July: Just seconds after footballer Bukayo Saka missed his penalty shot at the Euros final on Sunday, resulting in Italy’s victory, an atmospheric change swept across England.

The weeks of celebration and national spirit that had seemingly brought the country together as the tournament progressed were washed away by floods of racist comments towards the three Black penalty takers: Saka, Marcus Rashford, and Jadon Sancho.

Through Saka’s Instagram account after the match, I felt as if I had been transported to an England of 50 years ago. Comments were littered with monkey and banana emojis, he was told to “get out of my country” and was even referred to using the n-word.

As appalled as I was, none of this is shocking to me. It is merely a stark reminder of the unaddressed culture of racism prevalent in England.

Black people faces racism in England

During the match, Black people had joked on social media about the potential for racism should England lose. There were humorous tweets that instructed Black people to evacuate pubs and lock their doors if Italy won.

The aftermath of England’s loss to Italy saw football fans post violently racist comments on the players’ social media, Conservative MP Natalie Elphicke berate Rashford for “playing politics” – a reference to his campaign to end child food poverty – rather than spending more time “perfecting his game” in a WhatsApp message to other MPs, and a mural of the player in Withington, Manchester, where he once lived, vandalised.

As expected, this racism was met with almost laughably ironic messages of outrage from Prime Minister Boris Johnson and Home Secretary Priti Patel. Johnson spoke of how “appalling” the abuse is and told the racist fans to be “ashamed of themselves”. Similarly, Patel took to Twitter to “condemn the violent minority who assaulted” the players. Both Johnson and Patel fail to see that they are directly responsible for fostering this environment and how this racist response is reflective of their government.

It is extremely difficult for anyone to take their words seriously, considering their long record of racial antagonism and insensitivity. Johnson is the same person who has compared Muslim women to “letterboxes”, described Black Africans as “piccaninnies” with “watermelon smiles” and stated that the problem with Africa is that Britain is “not in charge anymore”.

Patel – herself the daughter of Ugandan-Indian refugees – is no better. She spent last summer labelling the Black Lives Matter protests as “dreadful”, implementing some of the most draconian immigration policies and arming the police with greater legislative powers without taking a single step to address the institutional racism which pervades the force.

Web Desk

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