Racism, social media and the Euros 2020: three months on 

Chairman of Hackney Wicks FC, Bobby Kasanga.

Chairman of Hackney Wicks FC, Bobby Kasanga. - Credit: Jim Purtill

Racism in football exploded in July’s Euros 2020 Final after three Black players missed their penalties in the England versus Italy shoot-out.  

The onslaught of racial abuse directed to Marcus Rashford, Jadon Sancho and Bukayo Saka flagged the magnitude of discrimination in the industry.   

Three months later, we reflect on the post-final racism with Bobby Kasanga, Chairman of Hackney Wick FC.  

Bobby rounded up his team after the final and spoke to them about “the realities” of being a Black professional player.  

He said: “A lot of them aim to play pro, but they were not aware of the abuse that can come with it if you’re not performing well. 

“Many of them said, why should I give my blood, sweat and tears to people who will tear us down if it doesn’t go well?” 

As well as “building tough skin”, Bobby told his team it is equally about “being able to say I’m not happy about this, and walking off the pitch if officials aren’t taking care of things.  

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“It’s what needs to happen- players should take back leadership and power.” 

Ilford local, Stephen Adubofour, is the creator of podcast Beyond the Hashtag which aims to “break the generational chains of discrimination” in football.    

Hackney Wick FC. 

Hackney Wick FC. - Credit: Jim Purtill

Stephen pinpointed social media as a key player in both causing the problem and affecting change.    

He said: “If I posted a clip of a football match on TV that would get taken down within a couple of minutes because the TV company has the copyright, so I can’t freely post that.  

“But if I tweet a racial slur to someone, there’s a chance that won’t even be taken down.   

 “They need to have policies in place to regulate social media as well as the abuse that happens in real life, and then be following up on them every quarter because that will truly hold people to account.”   

In early September, a proposal for changes to the draft Online Safety Bill was made by English football to strengthen the crackdown of online abuse.    

This was presented by ex-footballer Rio Ferdinand, the chair of equality and inclusion organisation Kick It Out, Sanjay Bhandari, and FA Director Edleen John at the Joint Select Committee.  

They proposed making discrimination and hate speech ‘priority illegal content’ and requiring social media companies to assist authorities with criminal investigations.   

Find out more at https://www.kickitout.org/news/our-proposal-to-strengthen-the-online-safety-bill