Thursday, 29 Jul 2021

Bukayo Saka: England star says ‘I will not let the negativity break me’ after online racist abuse

Bukayo Saka – one of the black England stars who suffered online abuse after the Euro 2020 final defeat – says “he was hurting so much” after missing a penalty but “will not let that moment or the negativity I have received break me”.

The winger and teammates Marcus Rashford and Jadon Sancho were targeted with racist comments on Facebook, Instagram and Twitter after they missed their spot kicks in Sunday’s match against Italy at Wembley.

Saka has called on social media companies to protect users from such abuse.

Writing on Twitter, the Arsenal player said: “I don’t want any child or adult to have to receive the hateful and hurtful messages that me, Marcus and Jadon have received this week.

“I knew instantly the kind of hate that I was about to receive and that is a sad reality that your powerful platforms are not doing enough to stop these messages.”

Saka, 19, said there was “no place for racism or hate of any kind in football or in any area of society”.

And he said through people reporting the abusive messages to police and “driving out the hate by being kind to one another, we will win”.

Referring to missing his spot kick, Saka said: “There are no words to tell you how disappointed I was with the result and my penalty.”

He added: “My reaction post match said it all, I was hurting so much and I felt like I’d let you all and my England family down, but I can promise you this.. I will not let that moment or the negativity that I’ve received this week break me.”

Saka said he was “sorry” that the team did not triumph in the European championship final but he vowed “we will give everything we’ve got to make sure this generation knows how it feels to win”.

His comments come as a police unit has been set up to investigate a surge in reports of racist abuse against England players.

The National Police Chiefs’ Council (NPCC) has revealed a hate crime investigation is being run by a dedicated team from the UK Football Policing Unit (UKFPU).

The unit, which is working through the large number of reports from across the country, has already submitted dozens of data applications to social media companies, the NPCC said.

Meanwhile, four people have been arrested by local police forces since the match on Sunday.

Earlier this week, Boris Johnson told MPs that football banning orders will be changed to cover online racism in the wake of the social media abuse directed at England players.

The prime minister said the change will mean “if you are guilty of racist abuse online of footballers then you will not be going to the match”.

“No ifs, no buts. No exemptions and no excuses,” he told the Commons.

But the country’s first black police and crime commissioner (PCC) has said banning online abusers from games is not going to solve the problem of racism in football.

Festus Akinbusoye, the recently elected Conservative PCC for Bedfordshire, said more needs to be done to “clamp down” on social media companies to act on abusive posts quicker.

And he said there needs to be a focus on the “culture around football” to address “destructive” behaviour.

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