Gareth Southgate and his England team leave a fine moral legacy
You are right that Gareth Southgate gave an extraordinary defence of his players after they were criticised for taking the knee before Euro 2020 games (Editorial, 9 July). Indeed, Southgate and his team’s moral and political consciousness is also key to explaining why England were more successful in this tournament than at any time since 1966.
The England manager urged his players to stay calm before the final and avoid the hype. But by taking the knee before every game, these young lions had already, crucially, put clear water between themselves and the boorish chauvinism of the English media and fans, including the booing of foreign national anthems, that has so often dragged down their predecessors. England are in a very good place for Qatar 2022.
As a 13-year-old I watched the 1966 World Cup final on our black and white TV. That was the last time I watched a game in full.
This England team, however, has made me sit up and take note of something inspirational unfolding before our eyes. I know nothing of the rights or wrongs of on-field tactics, nor the penalty-taking abilities of individual team members, but I do understand the importance to our whole nation of the example that Gareth Southgate set throughout for his team.
His personal demeanour and the support and guidance he has given to his young team has been a lesson to us all in responsibility, tolerance and inclusion – qualities that they have embedded and in turn used to help people needing support.
This, surely, is the significant legacy that Euro 2020 will leave for our nation. So, England faced a team that were better than them on the day – that’s all right, isn’t it?
Gareth Southgate and the England team took a knee against racism, even when criticised by government ministers. That will be the enduring legacy of the European Championship, and a good one. They can be proud of what they did.
Enough is most certainly enough. There is a disgusting undercurrent of racial hatred among a minority of English football fans. It was probably ever thus. However, this national embarrassment, which stands in such contrast to what the England team actually represents, finds its vile expression through the apparent impunity afforded by social media.
Simple condemnation from football authorities and the prime minister (Boris Johnson condemns ‘appalling’ racist abuse of England players, 12 July) is now a tired and wholly inadequate reaction: decisive action is required.
The perpetrators should be named and shamed, banned from attending all football matches (at international and club level) for a period of time or indefinitely, and the social media companies forced to suspend or close accounts. The authorities must seize this moment.
Tory MP Natalie Elphicke has suggested Marcus Rashford should have spent more time on his job than his “politics” (Johnson and Patel accused of hypocrisy over racist abuse of England footballers, 12 July). Perhaps if Mrs Elphicke had done hers properly, he wouldn’t have needed to.
East Boldon, Tyne and Wear