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EURO 2020: It’s not ‘Coming Home’, but Racism & Domestic Abuse is

EURO 2020 domestic abuse violence
Image by Marco Verch via CC 2.0 (https://foto.wuestenigel.com/euro-2020-official-ball-uniforia-dark-background/)

Roar writer Shaheena Uddin on the scenes of vandalism, racism and domestic abuse both before and after Englands Euros final.

Minutes to go on the clock and the nail-biting Euros final goes to a penalty shoot-out. In an agonising outcome for English fans, England lost the shoot out to a deserving Italy side. But the outpouring of racial abuse and domestic violence to follow the game was far more disappointing. In fact, the disillusionment had set in for me long before the game had even begun thanks to what the Government supposedly saw as mask-free fans “using their better judgement” to riot across the streets of London.

“Never go to Central London on a day when there’s a football match final.” One KCL student, Sarah Ghalayini, made that mistake and learned the hard way. “The things I saw today…I’m traumatised.” From reported bottle-throwing, vandalism of property, street fights, lamppost climbing, people taking off their clothes, revving up their car engines, screaming and chanting of racial slurs, a passed out drunk lying on the Underground station floor, to ticketless fans breaking into Wembley stadium, the chaos had begun several hours before the players had even entered the pitch. 45 people in total were arrested for “violence and disorder” on Sunday night.

It’s so disgraceful seeing scenes like this because it gives absolutely no consideration or thought to the environment or the minimum wage workers who will eventually have to clean it all up.

Sarah was just one of many bystanders who got caught in the absolute carnage of England fans yesterday: “Roads were blocked and all the stations near us were closed, so it was going to get dark…And I don’t like my area in the dark, it’s really scary. The most traumatising day I’ve ever had. But it was so funny because before it was so peaceful. We were in Hyde Park cycling and I had no clue what was about to happen.”

After months of England fans obnoxiously booing the national anthem of every team they have played, this kind of behaviour from fans seems to come as no surprise. But what is far more despicable is the extent of racist-driven abuse all three black England players, who took penalties, received in the aftermath of the game. The nation’s press and internet trolls alike turned on England players Rashford (23), Sancho (21) and Saka (19).

In victory, they were the pride of England but in defeated treated like “foreigners”. The bigots and racists seem unaware that the patriotic three lions they so proudly wear on their chest comprise a team mostly made up of these so-called “foreigners”? England would not be half the place it is today if it wasn’t for immigration: from sport to NHS workers, how much of England is really English?

While racism of any kind to anyone is absolutely unacceptable, bear in mind the ages of these targeted players. All either in or approaching their early 20s, they’re essentially our age as university students. Personally, I get anxious picking up the phone, let alone with the thought of having to compete live in an international competition, watched by millions worldwide. Imagine the amount of pressure of having to step up alone to the penalty spot in that very moment, while everyone’s eyes are resting on you, breath’s held, and the “fate of the nation” and its fragile ego too resting on your shoulders. I don’t know about you but that sounds like my worst nightmare.

https://twitter.com/boosconf/status/1414355537781608449

And despite all the odds, the England team played the game with courage, confidence and great spirit. They also showed immense integrity and patience in what I thought was extremely rough play on Italy’s part. They should be incredibly proud of themselves and all that they have achieved.

Marcus Rashford is also a national hero who fed the heart of the nation by raising £20 million in donations to provide free school meals for unprivileged children. It is important to acknowledge this because we owe so much to these players and should be grateful for their fantastic contributions to England. However, the media in recent days seems to have twisted this narrative on its head. By focusing entirely on achievements, it seemingly justifies that racism is only not acceptable when it is directed towards “model minorities”, who exceed a specific level of exceptional excellence. In reality, the racism of any kind, in any form, to anyone is abhorrent. People should not have to prove themselves with extraordinary achievements just to deserve basic human rights and be treated with respect.

Not to mention, the absolute performativity of outlets such as ‘The Sun’ and government officials like Priti Patel and Boris Johnson, who have since changed their tune in condemning racism, despite disagreeing with the England team’s taking of the knee previously and partaking in racist remarks themselves on several occasions.

The racism demonstrated towards these players is just a small taste of what all ethnic minorities face every single day. Unfortunately for the BAME community, who are at this point now accustomed to racism in this country, this game also means being placed under fire once again for simply existing as a person of colour in public at this time. Because when racists across the country are not spreading hate online towards these three players, they are busy taking out their anger and aggression on anyone who even vaguely resembles them in appearance. 

BBC Presenter and reporter Monika Plaha recently reported on her experiences with racist assumptions like the absurd notion that she couldn’t possibly be a “real” England fan, because of her Indian heritage.

Tasnia Yasmin, the KCLSU’s known and well-loved VP for Welfare and Community this year, also spoke to Roar to share her experiences following the game. “Most of the day was good vibes and everyone was singing and it was so nice to see…” But everything changed when the rabid England fans stormed in…”I swear my life flashed before my eyes.”

“Some of these stupid English fans are so horrid, people are worried about going home from the games, it’s absurd…It was annoying that my female friends felt like they had to have a guy during their journey just in case something happened…When I got to my station some guys were trying to cat-call me by asking me if I’m Italian, just to get a reaction out of me. It’s usually more worrying at that time getting home but it was busy enough that if someone was to do something there were other people and police and stuff around. I think just because of the dismay of people and general low energy, people think they can get away with the cat-calling and stuff, it’s horrible.”

According to several sources, domestic abuse rose by approximately 38% last night after England lost the Euro 2020. The fact that this statistic even exists is atrocious.

If you or anyone you know are subject to racial or domestic abuse, please use the following free and open 24 hours national helplines:

It’s been a hard year for everyone and it’s understandable that for a while football was the only thing England could really hold on to and be proud of, to keep their dwindling spirit alive. But yet the events that took place last night and over the past few weeks require some serious reflection and re-evaluation. It certainly begs the question – Do England fans really deserve a win, if losing a tournament can cause this much chaos, violence and racism?

English BA Student. Cat person. Tea addict.

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