When you have politicians like Priti Patel who think that it was “gesture politics” when players took a knee on the football ground against racism, you know the psyche of the people who elected them to power (“England soccer fans rally behind Marcus Rashford in racism row,” July 13, Gulf Today).
The racial abuse hurled at Rashford along with two other team-mates Jadon Sancho and Bukayo Saka, ater the trio of the black players missed the penalties in the final of the Euro Championship, should come as no surprise.
But there is another side to the coin, which cannot be ignored. Rashford, who was brought up by a single mother, had not had a privileged childhood and grew up amid hunger and poverty, has done more on an off the field than conservative politicians.
He launched a drive to provide beter provision for the under-privileged children at school in mid-day meals to help them combat poverty. Patel and others condemned the abuse. A fine exercise in diplomacy. Nothing more than that.
Rashford’s statement to the Press on the other hand is apologetic yet biting. “My penalty was not good enough, it should have gone in but I will never apologise for who I am and where I came from.”
The loss though is very painful for England. The Euro final penalty defeat to Italy at Wembley was the fourth time out of five that England has crashed out in such fashion at prized tournaments.
No doubt, Rashford, Sancho and Saka will be carrying the regret for a long time to come. But the Euro finals have gone way beyond football, now.
Ved R By email