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The beautiful game, tainted by racism.

The beautiful game, tainted by racism.

Today I wanted to write a post about the football. I am not at all someone who follows football, my husband is the biggest Chelsea fan and when the season is in full flow – it’s the bane of my life listening to him lose his mind at the players as they do their thing on the pitch. I do anything to avoid watching it.

However, I am rather patriotic and when it comes to national team competitions, I get really into it. This could be the Olympics, cricket, football, curling – it’s doesn’t really matter. Even if I don’t understand the rules – I’m behind our national team. There is two very clear reasons for this – the first, is community. How many of you would disagree with the fact that over the duration of the Euros, we as a nation haven’t found a common reason to rejoice together? We have – our national team have given us something to talk about, something to be excited about, they’ve brought us together, created positive moments and actually made quite a dark time something special. Our national team did that for us. They created a joyous moment for us – their community, their nation, their people. Their people – from all races and backgrounds, brought together in support and love for ‘the beautiful game’ and those incredible people that represent us. I also feel that our national team is beautiful – it is diverse, it is representative and every young person can relate to those people in that team, they can see themselves in those players and that is something special.

I also support our national team for another reason.. this second reason makes me quite emotional. The people that are chosen to represent us and our nation are….I hope the best of the best. They are the role models for future generations, they are the people that will pave the way for that aspiring runner, footballer, swimmer, cricketer, coach, goalie.. and everything else that is in between. They help shape the future.

Marcus Rashford, for example is an incredible role model – his initiative to help feed Britain’s children during the pandemic shows how to be ‘supportive to the community’.

I don’t get football really, I don’t get the Premier League, the Champions League and all the rest of it. In fact, I often get in a right strop when it’s on the TV and I have to adapt my plans to ensure that my husband gets to watch his beloved Chelsea. I get so annoyed when Chelsea aren’t playing but ‘we have to watch’ the football because it’s a BIG game. Who even cares? I also find the behaviour of fans of opposing teams abhorrent – the chants, the language, the abuse – it’s just obscene, disgusting and downright embarrassing.

BUT I do get The World Cup and The European Championships. I believe that those tournaments are pure joy – pure excitement; electric communal participation because we as the nations get behind them and we love the players so much for bringing everything to the game. We love them for the journey that they take us on, we love them for the conversations we have, the chance for us all to get together and crowd round the television yelling our heads off. It’s beautiful and in that moment – I get why they call it the most beautiful game. I really do.

But then… they lose.

Suddenly for a loud minority the rose tinted glasses come off and suddenly we see the real them. They’ve forgotten the journey, the hard work, the preparation, the mental and physical toil they’ve our player have gone through… that loud minority voice turns. It becomes vile, disgusting, vicious, cruel and hateful.

Where does that hate come from?

Why does the game that was so beautiful become a barrage of racial hate?

I’ve watched on social media today as so many have hit back at the vitriol of abuse that’s been lobbied at those talented young men. I’m sorry, but England didn’t win in 90 mins, they didn’t win in extra time so why suddenly is the fault of three black men that England lost? Those young men showed up for their country and yet we hear and see cowards taking to social media to let loose on them. Shame on you. Shame on you for thinking that you have the right to do that – you don’t. Shame on you. Shame on you for tainting the remarkable journey that our national team took us on. Shame on you for thinking that you have the right to drag a 19 year old down and make him feel like he is not good enough because of the colour of his skin. Shame on you for the making the N word trend on twitter, shame on you for thinking that this is acceptable use of social media: HOW IS THIS ACCEPTABLE?

I feel such a deep sense of pain at this behaviour. How can people think that this is okay? How can people think that this won’t be condemned? How can people think like this? Gareth Southgate said it perfectly – our national team is representative, it shows what happens when we come together. Yet.. this, this is what it means to be an English football fan? I know it’s a minority who ruin it for the majority but come on.. how can we have got to a point where this is how we are seen by the rest of the world?

How can something like this be allowed to happen?

Jameela Jamil may not be everyone’s cup of tea and that’s fine but she summed it up for me.

Anyway, to end this post… I want to thank the men’s England squad for helping me to enjoy football for the past few weeks.. it’s been quite something so thank you for that. You’re amazing, keep going – move forward, stronger and more powerful than ever.