It’s tough enough that @bukayosaka87 @marcusrashford and @sanchooo10 bravely stepped up as young lions where angels would fear to tread, for love of the game, the shirt, and the country, only to miss the target or have their penalties saved. Then to face a torrent of racist abuse we shouldn’t have to protect them from, adds repugnant insults to the threat of mental injury.
The nemesis of racism far exceeds the mindless trashing of London and the alcohol-laced, selfish storming of the National Stadium, just to watch ‘the beautiful game.’ Our football associations, and every fan, must do the work to stamp out racism.
And disappointment, scorn and blame are the genesis of life-threatening illness. Sideline pundits might want to chasten their criticism of players and naming them, forcing them to speak out to defend themselves at a time when they are most vulnerable. Instead, we can salute all the players, the masterful Gareth Southgate and all the England team staff for collectively bringing the squad to a final, through 90 minutes, extra time and to a sensational shootout. England didn’t lose, they were beaten. And that’s football.
Right now, we should do exactly what came so instinctively to Southgate. Hold our players close, safe enough to let them weep.
Compassion wins. Love wins.