Last night’s result was heart-breaking, but Gareth Southgate and his team have done England proud. This inclusive team stood firm in their fight for equality and captured the imagination of the country. Visible in their support for Pride month and Black Lives Matter, this is a side whose compassion and diversity is representative of a modern, progressive England. In reaching our first men’s final in 55 years, the players brought hope and inspiration to millions on and off the pitch.
I completely condemn the subsequent racist abuse. It is appalling and must be met with the strongest possible response. High-ranking ministers, including Boris Johnson and Priti Patel who now claim to be shocked and appalled by the racist abuse, facilitated it by refusing to condemn those who booed when the players took the knee against racism.
Hatred has become endemic on social media platforms. We need a much tougher online harms bill which includes criminal sanctions for senior tech executives who repeatedly fail to enforce the rules. Its clear self-regulation isn’t working. The players knelt in solidarity for people across the country, and it’s time we do the same for them.
The defeat is very hard to take but I think back to the letter Gareth Southgate wrote before the start of the tournament:
“𝘐 𝘵𝘩𝘪𝘯𝘬 𝘢𝘣𝘰𝘶𝘵 𝘢𝘭𝘭 𝘵𝘩𝘦 𝘺𝘰𝘶𝘯𝘨 𝘬𝘪𝘥𝘴 𝘸𝘩𝘰 𝘸𝘪𝘭𝘭 𝘣𝘦 𝘸𝘢𝘵𝘤𝘩𝘪𝘯𝘨 𝘵𝘩𝘪𝘴 𝘴𝘶𝘮𝘮𝘦𝘳, 𝘧𝘪𝘭𝘭𝘪𝘯𝘨 𝘰𝘶𝘵 𝘵𝘩𝘦𝘪𝘳 𝘧𝘪𝘳𝘴𝘵 𝘸𝘢𝘭𝘭 𝘤𝘩𝘢𝘳𝘵𝘴. 𝘕𝘰 𝘮𝘢𝘵𝘵𝘦𝘳 𝘸𝘩𝘢𝘵 𝘩𝘢𝘱𝘱𝘦𝘯𝘴, 𝘐 𝘫𝘶𝘴𝘵 𝘩𝘰𝘱𝘦 𝘵𝘩𝘢𝘵 𝘵𝘩𝘦𝘪𝘳 𝘱𝘢𝘳𝘦𝘯𝘵𝘴, 𝘵𝘦𝘢𝘤𝘩𝘦𝘳𝘴 𝘢𝘯𝘥 𝘤𝘭𝘶𝘣 𝘮𝘢𝘯𝘢𝘨𝘦𝘳𝘴 𝘸𝘪𝘭𝘭 𝘵𝘶𝘳𝘯 𝘵𝘰 𝘵𝘩𝘦𝘮 𝘢𝘯𝘥 𝘴𝘢𝘺, “𝘓𝘰𝘰𝘬. 𝘛𝘩𝘢𝘵’𝘴 𝘵𝘩𝘦 𝘸𝘢𝘺 𝘵𝘰 𝘳𝘦𝘱𝘳𝘦𝘴𝘦𝘯𝘵 𝘺𝘰𝘶𝘳 𝘤𝘰𝘶𝘯𝘵𝘳𝘺. 𝘛𝘩𝘢𝘵’𝘴 𝘸𝘩𝘢𝘵 𝘌𝘯𝘨𝘭𝘢𝘯𝘥 𝘪𝘴 𝘢𝘣𝘰𝘶𝘵. 𝘛𝘩𝘢𝘵 𝘪𝘴 𝘸𝘩𝘢𝘵’𝘴 𝘱𝘰𝘴𝘴𝘪𝘣𝘭𝘦.”
𝘐𝘧 𝘸𝘦 𝘤𝘢𝘯 𝘥𝘰 𝘵𝘩𝘢𝘵, 𝘪𝘵 𝘸𝘪𝘭𝘭 𝘣𝘦 𝘢 𝘴𝘶𝘮𝘮𝘦𝘳 𝘵𝘰 𝘣𝘦 𝘱𝘳𝘰𝘶𝘥 𝘰𝘧. “
They did exactly that. You did us all proud.