View from the terraces

Euro 2020 final: ‘why would football want to come home to this anyway?’

England’s defeat to Italy is marred by racial abuse of players and disgraceful behaviour of fans

England is “in mourning” today after penalty heartbreak in the Euro 2020 final, says the Daily Mail’s Martin Robinson. The Three Lions’s hopes of lifting a first major trophy since the 1966 World Cup were crushed by Italy, who won 3-2 on penalties after the match had ended 1-1 after extra time. 

Goalkeeper Jordan Pickford saved two attempts during the shoot-out at Wembley Stadium, but missed spot-kicks by Marcus Rashford, Jadon Sancho and Bukayo Saka proved crucial as the Italians went on to win the European Championship for the second time in their history.

Regardless of the result, the country should have been celebrating Gareth Southgate’s side reaching a major final for the first time in 55 years and England hosting its biggest sporting event since that day in 1966. 

However, the aftermath of the final has been overshadowed by online racial abuse of England trio Rashford, Sancho and Saka and the behaviour of fans before, and after, the match. 

Southgate: the abuse is ‘unforgivable’

Prime Minister Boris Johnson and the English Football Association (FA) have condemned the racial abuse targeting the England players who missed penalties in last night’s shoot-out, the BBC reports. 

Johnson tweeted that the England team “deserve to be lauded as heroes, not racially abused on social media” and “those responsible for this appalling abuse should be ashamed of themselves”.

In a statement the FA added that it was “appalled” by the online racism aimed at the England players. It has urged for the “toughest punishments possible for anyone responsible” while also calling on social media companies to “step up” and do more to tackle abuse. 

An FA statement said: “We will continue to do everything we can to stamp discrimination out of the game, but we implore government to act quickly and bring in the appropriate legislation so this abuse has real life consequences. 

“Social media companies need to step up and take accountability and action to ban abusers from their platforms, gather evidence that can lead to prosecution and support making their platforms free from this type of abhorrent abuse.”

In his press conference this morning England boss Southgate said his first thoughts are with “the boys that have done so well for us” and the squad that has “brought our country together”. But “for some of them to be abused is unforgivable”, he added. 

The Metropolitan Police has opened an investigation and said “this abuse is totally unacceptable, it will not be tolerated”.

‘Thugs not fans’

Hopes were high that football was finally going to come home and the final day started in jovial mood as fans gathered around Wembley Way hours before the match. However, as kick-off edged closer the carnival scenes descended into chaos as ticketless fans stormed Wembley and the scenes turned volatile. 

Today the Metropolitan Police is “facing questions” over the chaos at Wembley, The Telegraph says. There were 19 police officers injured during violence before the final and across London 49 people were arrested.

The Metropolitan Police Federation said the supporters who attacked officers were “thugs not fans”. The body, which represents thousands of London’s police officers, tweeted: “These people should be ashamed of themselves.”

‘Awful, awful night’

The Daily Mail’s Mike Keegan said it was the “worst experience” he’d ever had as a fan at a football match. “Shambolic organization, police nowhere to be seen, fans without tickets running amok within what was a giant Covid breeding ground,” he tweeted. “Taken 3.5 hours to get out of the godforsaken place. Saw fights, bottles thrown, people karate kicking windows and (a new one for me) had to jump out of the way of an armed officer with his gun drawn chasing someone. Transport non-existent, roads gridlocked for hours, behaviour of many despicable. Wembley Way a bombsite. Awful, awful night.”

ITV reporter Michelle Owen echoed Keegan’s views saying she had “never felt so unnerved at a match”. “Outside was toxic, people covered in blood,” she said. “Inside the ground people unchecked without tickets meandering around for a seat. Not nice.”

At Leicester Square fans were pictured “throwing bottles and road cones” and “leaving the area littered with rubbish”, Sky News said. 

After what should have been a great celebration of a final, the hangover will loom long over English football. Sky reporter Mark Austin summed it all up with this tweet: “Disgusting racial abuse of England players, yobs storming into Wembley and Leicester Square trashed… why would football want to come home to this anyway?”

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