MESSY: Leicester Square in London is covered in litter ahead of Sunday's final. AFP Photo
Now the dust has settled on the European Championships, it’s time to look back on the football played during the delayed month-long tournament.
Wait, no. Scratch that. It’s not.
It’s actually time to ask why there still remains a number of absolute knuckle draggers following England’s national team.
And yes, I know, it’s not all of them. It’s not most. It’s not half. It is just a small fraction of so-called fans who behave like idiots. But sadly they are tarnishing the reputation of all the well-meaning English supporters.
I could bring up the boos by some supporters when England players took the knee during their first game of the tournament, but I won’t. I could mention the whistles of resentment during national anthems of opposing teams, but again, I’d rather not.
I could talk about Denmark supporters, many with young children, being verbally abused by grown men wearing England shirts that barely covered their beer bellies before the semi-final, or the videos of supporters charging the gates of Wembley Stadium trying to get into the ground without tickets before the final, but again, I’ll save that for another time.
I could also write about the rivers of trash left on the streets of London after England fans had watched matches on big screens, or the footage of drunken supporters randomly throwing glass bottles into the air for reasons no one actually knows, but no. I won’t.
Instead, I’m going to write about a subject that never, ever seems to go away. Racism.
We all know the three players who missed the crucial spot-kicks in the shoot-out against Italy in the final. Marcus Rashford, Jadon Sancho and Bukayo Saka.
Could they have done better with their penalties? Yes, for sure. Was Gareth Southgate right to choose that particular trio to try their luck from 12 yards? Maybe, maybe not. Does the fact that they are all players of colour have anything whatsoever to do with them missing? No, of course not. Not at all.
So why were they racially abused in the days that followed the defeat? I’ll tell you why, it’s because there is a minority of football supporters, all teams, who are just brainless idiots.
(If you don’t believe me, just look up the story of the England fan who placed a flare up his backside and lit it with a match. I need say no more.)
And it’s not just in England.
This week, in Việt Nam News, we carried a great story about retired Nigerian footballer Amaobi Honest Uzowuru who after a successful career in the V.League now has Vietnamese citizenship and teaches young players in HCM City. He also regularly works as a TV pundit.
One comment on the story posted on our social media pages, clearly from a fake account, was so abhorrently racist I find it difficult to read, let alone repeat. It goes without saying the comment was deleted and the author banned and reported to Facebook for vile and disgusting racism.
So why do a minority of people behave in such a way? I think that’s a question we will never get an answer to.
Maybe it's in their genes, and I'm not talking about the 38 inch waist River Island variety. Or maybe it's just the way of the world these days. But more likely I think those who do tweet and comment racist slurs are doing so often anonymously, like the true cowards they are.
What the England team achieved at the Euros, getting to their first major final in 55 years, was a feat of sheer greatness. They brought the nation together, only for it to be ripped apart by a minority of numbskulls after the final.
Loving your country and your national football team is a very good thing. But that love must be unconditional, through thick and thin, good times and bad. And it should never, ever be broken just because someone looks different to the way you do. — VNS