What has caused the recent rise of racism?
The UEFA European Football Championship, or the Euros, is one of the largest football championships in the world, with Europe’s top national teams competing for the trophy. England was a strong contender this year, making it to the finals with Italy, the first time they made it to the Euros finals. However, they lost their chance at bringing the trophy home when they lost in the penalty shootout to Italy. The Italian goalkeeper Gianluigi Donnarumma blocked three penalty kicks from the English team, taken by Black players Jadon Sancho, Marcus Rashford, and lastly, Buyako Saka. The penalty lineup was chosen by Gareth Southgate, who is the head coach of the English team. He stated that it was “down to [him], [he] decided on the penalty takers based on what they have done in training and nobody is on their own”. Buyako Saka is 19 years old, and faced with the immense pressure of England possibly winning, he along with the other Black players are facing immense racist abuse. This is not the first time England has shown its ugly and over competitive side in the competition, after attacking a young German fan for crying when her team lost. Some English citizens have also been physically beating and attacking those they wrongly consider “responsible” for their loss. Additionally, social media platforms have seen immense amounts of monkey emojis and racist insults to the players.
On Thursday, Buyako Saka released a statement through Twitter, condemning the vast amount of racism he and the other players have faced. He also expressed his own disappointment and sorrow over the loss, and then also urged platforms such as Instagram, Facebook, and Twitter to take action on the abuse. “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.”
Social Media’s work is cut out for them
Along with Saka’s own comments, Prime Minister Boris Johnson-who almost immediately denounced the immoral racism-warned representatives from Facebook, Instagram, Twitter, Tiktok, and Snapchat they would be facing fines under Britain’s upcoming online safety legislation if they failed to combat the hate speech. Additionally, the English Football Association also stated that “social media companies need to step up and take accountability and action to ban abusers from their platforms, gather evidence that can lead to prosecution and support making the platforms free from this type of abhorrent abuse.”
Facebook, who controls Instagram, stated that it was removing comments and accounts who had perpetuated racist remarks towards the English team and was working with law enforcement. Currently, four people have been arrested over online racism. Twitter has removed over 1000 tweets and permanently suspended accounts for violating its rules with racism. Facebook and Twitter have had their fair share of hate speech on their platforms, with the Black Lives Matter movement drawing a right-wing backlash with toxic speech and misinformation.
In the future, everyone can only hope that large tech and social media companies will improve their security against racist outbreaks and make their platforms safer for everyone.