July 12, (THEWILL) – Cases of online racist abuses of England’s footballers of colour, who missed their penalties in Sunday’s Euro 2020 final against Italy and cost the Three Lions the finals, have gone up and have now been joined by acts of vandalism as was done to a mural of Marcus Rashford.
The wall art at Withington in Manchester, honouring Rashford for acts beyond the field of play and for model behaviour was vandalised with graffiti and defaced after the defeat England suffered at Wembley Stadium in the Sunday night final.
THEWILL recalls that the 23-year-old Englishman missed his penalty on Sunday night after sending the keeper the wrong way, while the duo of Jadon Sancho and Bukayo Saka had their spot kicks saved by Gianluigi Donnarumma, the competition’s best keeper.
The defaced artwork was commissioned as a recognition of Rashford’s energetic campaign against child food poverty. The mural was painted by street artist Akse in collaboration with Withington Walls, a community street art project in honour of the player’s effort.
On Monday, an investigation was launched by the Greater Manchester Police after the “racially aggravated damage” was reported to officers. Chief Superintendent Paul Savill appealed for information while saying: “This is disgraceful behaviour and will absolutely not be tolerated.
“Hate crime in any form is completely unacceptable and not welcome here in our city.”
It comes as a slap on the face of Rashford, who had devoted time and resources since last October to a widespread campaign to help provide free school meals for children from families who struggle to put food on the table due to poverty.
The widely successful campaign which was joined by many private businesses and interests reached countless families and was applauded for going as far as changing government policy towards children feeding.
That was partly responsible for the swift reaction of
Ed Wellard, the co-founder Withington Walls. He said: “I’ve come out to fix what I could immediately and cover up what I couldn’t and hopefully we will get the artist out to come and fix it.
“We dared to dream yesterday and our hopes were dashed but to wake up to this is more depressing. Racism seems to be more and more prevalent.”
As THEWILL reported, the English Football Association also condemned the racist online abuse suffered by Rashford, Sancho and Saka. An official statement issued early on Monday said: “The FA strongly condemns all forms of discrimination and is appalled by the online racism that has been aimed at some of our England players on social media.
“We could not be clearer that anyone behind such disgusting behaviour is not welcome in following the team. We will do all we can to support the players affected while urging the toughest punishments possible for anyone responsible.
“We will continue to do everything we can to stamp discrimination out of the game, but we implore government to act quickly and bring in the appropriate legislation so this abuse has real life consequences.
“Social media companies need 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.”
Perhaps, Rashford and his targeted teammates, will take consolation from the very words inscribed on the mural, which were said to have been provided by Rashford’s mother. It reads: “Take pride in knowing that your struggle will play the biggest role in your purpose.”