Online petition to ban racists from English football gains support

Group known as 'Three Hijabis' set up social media campaign after black players abused

An online petition has been signed by thousands of people demanding racists who abuse players be banned from English football for life.

The response came after several England football players were subjected to online abuse when their team lost on penalties to Italy in the Euro 2020 final on Sunday night.

By Monday night the petition - set up by a group called The Three Hijabis - had gained more than 400,000 signatures out of a target of half a million.

The organisers urged the British government and England's Football Association to work together to ensure those who abuse players are banned from football for life.

"After last night’s match, vile racist abuse was directed at our heroic players Marcus Rashford, Bukayo Saka and Jadon Sancho.

"As multiracial football fans, we finally feel represented by this anti-racist and inclusive England team," the petition on Change.org said. "We could not be more proud or inspired by our magnificent team and by their talent, bravery, leadership and love for all.

"We are calling for the Football Association [FA] and the government to work together now to ban all those who have carried out racist abuse, online or offline, from all football matches in England for life."

Amna is part of the Three Hijabis group that campaigns on issues such as violence towards women and racial discrimination.

"We were sadly not surprised by the reaction [towards the players]", she told The National.

"We had indications of it when the team took the knee at the start of the tournament and saw the response, the booing from so-called fans, to the reaction of our own government. But unfortunately, for many of us it’s just daily part of our lives."

She said she was encouraged by the "incredible" reaction from across the country, but said that "words alone" were not enough.

"Those perpetrating this behaviour need to be held accountable, and we hope that the FA will respond to this petition and start to address this issue with actions, not just words," she said.

The petition will be presented to the FA, Prime Minister Boris Johnson, and UK Secretary of State for Digital, Culture, Media and Sport Oliver Dowden once it has gained enough signatures

High-profile figures led condemnation against the racist messages. Mr Johnson said racism has no place in modern society.

"For those who have been directing racist abuse at some of the players, I say 'Shame on you'," he said in a Downing Street press briefing on Monday. "And I hope you will crawl back under the rock from which you emerged."

Prince William, who is president of the FA and watched Sunday's final at Wembley, said he was "sickened by the racist abuse aimed at England players after last night’s match".

London’s Metropolitan Police on Monday said it was investigating offensive and racist messages on social media.

An estate agency in the UK said it suspended an employee after a racist message emerged on social media.

"Savills is committed to eliminating discrimination and encouraging diversity among our workforce,” the firm said on its Twitter account.

The tweet said the company will undertake an investigation regarding the “unacceptable incident”.

Updated: July 12th 2021, 8:21 PM
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