Sporting Equals CEO Statement Arun Kang OBE on UEFA Euro 2020 Racism
As a nation we shared the anticipation, excitement and joy of England's dynamic journey to the UEFA Euro 2020 final. However, this joy and spirit was apparently contingent on the success of the England team. As the tide unfortunately turned-on England last night it did not take long for spaces to become toxic, racist and unsafe physically for fans and digitally with racist abuse being directed heavily at Bukayo Saka, Marcus Rashford and Jadon Sancho.
The scenes at Wembley post the match were entirely unacceptable as those visibly identifiable as ethnically diverse were left vulnerable to racist abuse or physical abuse. How quickly spaces became unsafe for ethnically diverse communities is truly shocking. There is a clear link in how racism toxically influences digital and physical spaces, with the digital racism emboldening individuals to engage in physical racism and abuse. More must be done to disparage and eliminate these behaviours, links and patterns. This behaviour is why players take the knee and why it is important to continually work to eliminate racism in sport. Racism is still incredibly real and potent as a threat which the government and football authorities need to recognise and commit to changing through tangible and informed action.
There is a real need for stronger digital regulation for social media platforms where much of the mental and emotional abuse, which is largely racist, is taking place. We need to see a commitment from the government and from football authorities to work with social media organisations to develop and enforce stronger systems to deter and eradicate racism in digital spaces. There also needs to be greater commitment from football clubs to make lasting and impactful systemic changes regarding how incidents are reported and managed . There is a need for stronger and swifter investigation as well as accountability and prosecution of those found guilty of engaging in racism in digital and physical spaces. Education at all levels, particularly at a community level is essential if true change in historically racist attitudes is to ever be felt. The football authorities need to look to work beyond their network and engage with other partners to develop concrete resolves and strategies to eradicate the threat of racism and develop safe spaces for all fans and players alike .
In addition to the severe racist abuse the players are currently facing, our concern also sits with how this new wave of racism will manifest in day-to-day life. With the continuation of racism directed at the young players and the additional threat of a rise in racist abuse and attacks towards ethnically diverse communities action and accountability is necessary now. There are underlying factors that need to be reviewed and addressed as the consequences of last night's defeat do not indicate meaningful and tangible movement in terms of racial equality and safe spaces for diverse ethnic communities. We hope to see action and meaningful interventions from the government and football authorities.
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