Monday 12 July 2021

Euro 2020 - Lets remember it for the good things

 I was rather hoping that waking up this morning would be one of the happier days of my life. Regular readers will know I'm a football lover. England have just had their best performance in a major tournament since 1966 when I was three years old. The side is young, dynamic and packed with talent. They took a brilliant Italian team, a team I picked out as my pre match favourites, all the way. We were even ahead in the penalty shoot out at one point. The team has players such as Marcus Rashford, who has redifined how we think of footballers, with his campaign for school dinners for hungry kids. The manager has shown a refereshingly honest and open approach to the job.  As an act of penance, I reread the blog I wrote when England were knocked out of the Euro 2016 competition. It is like reading a blog from another age. We have so much to be happy about. And yet....

The stories today are all about 'on line abuse and racism'. Out of a country of sixty million people, a minutely small band of racist idiots have pissed on all of our parties. They have hijacked the narrative and moved it into where they want it. We are talking about race rather than national unity. They have defined a subset of our players as other and we've bought it. I am sickened. I genuinely didn't know what to write this morning. And then.....

No I refuse to let a bunch of racist twats define my memories, piss on my nation, label football fans in any way. I REJECT THEM. I am a proud England fan. I am proud that Raheem Stirling of Manchester City had a great tournament, scored three wonderful goals and got us to the final. This is not because of his colour. It is because he is a damn fine footballer and as an intelligent person, that is what matters. I am proud that John Stones, Kyle Walker and Phil Foden also represent my club in the England set up. I am proud that Harry Kane, Raheem Stirling and Buyako Saka are from my home City of London. I am proud that the game I love produces young men like Marcus Rashford, who recognise that they have influence and use it for good. These amazing young men and their brilliant manager have lifted our mood. I am not going to let a bunch of racist cowards, hiding in their bedrooms, bashing furiously at their keyboards spoil a second. Lets look forward. Lets dream of them lifting the World Cup next year.

As to the violent scenes. These were not about football. They were about people being drunk and not being able to behave themselves. We've all been locked up like farm animals for eighteen months. Far too many, shackles released, went over the top, got completely bladdered and acted like idiots. This has nothing to do with football. The police will tell you our pubs and clubs see this every weekend in normal times. The football just gave a release, so there was a higher than usual number of drunk people in one place than usual and the press were looking for stories. 

In five years time, the morons will be forgotten, I just hope this is the start of a golden era for English football. And I hope that golden era is one which is inclusive and where we finally put the ghastly shadow of racism behind us and embrace the fact that the reason we have such a great team is because we welcome everyone. 

I wrote a song last year and made a video that sums up my view of racism.

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