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19-year-old England winger Bukayo Saka faced racist remarks on social media after he missed his penalty kick, sealing the victory for Italy in the Euro 2020 Final on Sunday.
Many condemned the online vitriol from England fans, which spoiled an otherwise cracking day of soccer. The FA released a statement saying it was appalled by the racist abuse aimed at England’s minority players.
“We could not be clearer that anyone behind such disgusting behavior is not welcome in following the team,” it said in a statement. “We will do all we can to support the players affected while urging the toughest punishments possible for anyone responsible.”
It also called on social media companies to “step up and take accountability and action to ban abusers from their platforms, gather evidence that can lead to prosecution and support making their platforms free from this type of abhorrent abuse.”
The loss came after a hotly contested match that began with Luke Shaw scoring the fastest goal in Euro history, putting England ahead early.
England failed to add onto their lead, allowing a game-tying goal to Italy’s Leonardo Bonucci in the 67th minute. The score remained tied at 1 after two 15-minute extra time periods, paving the way for a deciding penalty shootout. Moments before extra time concluded, England manager Gareth Southgate substituted Jordan Henderson and Kyle Walker for 23-year-old Marcus Rashford and 21-year-old Jadon Sancho, respectively, to take penalty kicks.
A Marcus Rashford mural was also defaced after the England defeat:
The final three penalty takers—Rashford, Sancho, and Saka—missed their attempts. Some questioned why Southgate chose to put a 19-year-old in such a difficult spot.
Others wondered why Saka’s more experienced teammates failed to rise to the occasion. “If you’re [Raheem] Sterling or [Jack] Grealish, you cannot sit there and have a young kid [Saka] go up for a penalty ahead of you, you can’t,” Roy Keane told ITV. “You cannot let a shy 19-year-old go up in front of you. They have a lot more experience, Sterling has won trophies, they had to get in front of the young kid and stand up.”
Many were so immensely proud of what Saka, Rashford, and Sancho were able to accomplish throughout the tournament at such a young age.
The win gives Italy its first Euro title since 1968, and second overall.
On Monday, BuzzFeed News senior tech reporter Ryan Mac tweeted that Facebook employees are frustrated their platform “is not doing enough to stop racist abuse” on Saya and Rashford’s accounts. One employee indicated many comments are coming from “spam and anon accounts that look like they are created to abuse ppl.” In an internal company exchange, another employee wrote, “We get this stream of utter bile every match, and it’s even worse when someone black misses… We really can’t be seen as complicit in this.”
“Some employees are wondering why they weren’t prepared more,” Mac wrote. “‘Racist abuse is something they’ve seen all premier league season, they said. ‘It seems this was totally preventable,’ one employee wrote on an internal forum, and asked what FB will do ahead of World Cup 2022.”