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Evening Standard
Evening Standard
Lizzie Edmonds

Protesters chant ‘love football, hate racism’ outside Downing Street in support of England Euros stars

Around 100 demonstrators today gathered opposite Downing Street in solidarity with members of the England football team who received racist abuse following the Euro 2020 final.

Protesters chanted “love football, hate racism”, and heard from speakers including former shadow home secretary Diane Abbott.

“The Government wants to have its cake and eat it… Priti Patel called taking the knee gesture politics,” Ms Abbott said.

“I’ll tell you what gesture politics is, it’s condemning the England players throughout the tournament and then putting on an England shirt in the semi-finals.”

Referring to England footballers’ responses on Twitter, she said: “Boris Johnson, your boys took a hell of a beating.”

Later, demonstrators crossed Whitehall and took the knee in front of Downing Street in solidarity with the England footballers.

Chants of “Black Lives Matter” rang out, as those gathered raised their fists and held anti-racism placards aloft.

Bukayo Saka, Marcus Rashford and Jadon Sancho - who missed penalties - were targeted on social media following the game, prompting a national outcry over their treatment.

Saka was the latest player to speak out about the abuse he’d suffered online since the match on Sunday.

Diane Abbott (REUTERS)

He wrote on Thursday: “For those who have campaigned on my behalf and sent me heartfelt letters, wished me and my family well, I’m so thankful.

“This is what football should be about, passion, people of all races, genders, religions and backgrounds coming together with one shared joy of the rollercoaster of football.

“To the social media platforms Instagram, Twitter and Facebook, I don’t want any child or adult to have to receive the hateful and hurtful messages that me Marcus and Jadon have received this week.

“I knew instantly the kind of hate that I was about to receive and that is a sad reality that your powerful platforms are not doing enough to stop these messages.

“There is no place for racism or hate of any kind in football or in any area of society and to the majority of people coming together to call out the people sending these messages, by taking action and reporting these comments to the police and by driving out the hate by being kind to one another, we will win.

Protestors in London (REUTERS)

“Love always wins.”

It comes as former deputy assistant commissioner of the Metropolitan Police Andy Trotter said on Saturday scenes witnessed at Wembley Stadium on the day of the Euro 2020 final was “a stain on our country’s reputation”, but that it was “simplistic” to solely blame police.

“It was disgusting behaviour by fans and it does bring shame on our country to think that Italian fans could be attacked for just being Italian fans,” he told Times Radio.

“When one reads through the accounts… there’s a whole catalogue of issues that need to be addressed.

“I think just to pin it on the police is a bit simplistic because quite clearly there were failings everywhere.

“(But) I’m not trying to defend anyone here because it was an awful, awful event and a real stain on our country’s reputation.”

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