Church leaders condemn racism towards England footballers

Joining with leading Christian sports organisations they call for the combatting and dismantling of racism in all forms.

Church leaders, leading Christian sports organisations and millennial leaders have joined with society to condemn the vile, racist abuse that was poured out over social media following England’s defeat in the final of the UEFA European Football Championship.

Last week the nation gathered with optimistic anticipation that football was #cominghome as the diverse England team overcame Denmark in the semi-final. However, this unity turned toxic as some England fans hurled racist abuse and threatened violence towards the three young black players who took part in Sunday’s nail-biting penalty shoot out.

The Church of England’s General Synod, meeting online, issued the following statement

“…we wish to applaud the achievements of the England men’s football team in reaching the final of Euro 2020.”

“The multicultural composition of the team, and the sense of mutual support which they exude is a model for the whole country.”

“As officers of the General Synod we wish to express our deep disappointment and concern that the achievement has been marred by disgraceful racial abuse.”

CTE’s Pentecostal and Charismatic President, Pastor Agu Irukwu, commented:

“We might have lost a game but this England team has certainly won the heart of the nation. The racist attacks directed at Jadon Sancho , Marcus Rashford and Bukayo Saka is reprehensible. We pray that God will forgive the perpetrators and that they will come to know the love of Christ.”

CTE Orthodox President Archbishop Angaelos released a statement on Twitter:

Tweet on football racism from Archbishop Angaelos

A call for change 

CTE General Secretary, Rev Dr Paul Goodliff said, 

“Sadly, the racist abuse of England’s footballers shows how deeply ingrained racism is in some parts of our society, and demands of us a re-doubling of our commitment to a racially just society.”

“Scripture encourages us to ’not grow weary in doing what is right’, and whether it is racist abuse in sport, systemic disadvantage in the work-place, or injustice in the criminal justice system that sees disproportionate numbers of young black men in prison, we’ll keep on calling it out, and working and praying for a society where racism is never tolerated — and, yes, that work begins in our own Christian communities.”

Bishop Moses Owusu-Sekyere Co-Chair of CTE’s Racial Justice Working Group said,

“It’s appalling to read on social media the racist comments aimed at our young England players. This is unacceptable! We can and we must do better than this.” 

Leading Christian Sports organisation Sports Chaplaincy UK, one of CTE’s Bodies in Association released the following statement and condemned the racist abuse received:

Sports Chaplaincy UK tweet on football racism 
Their CEO, Warren Evans added,

“We need, as a church, not just to make statements but to practically demonstrate the love and compassion of God, to promote a culture where all are valued and welcomed. We continue to stand with those who have experienced abuse of whatever kind within the community of sport, at whatever level.”

Millennial leader, Clare Williams, who is creating aspirational opportunities for young people to visit Oxford university spoke to CTE,
“Last week I celebrated as a group of bright students, many of whom were black boys, came to Jesus College, Oxford University on the Masterclass programme. This week I grieve the racial abuse endured by talented young black men, who enabled England to make it to the Euro final.

“Navigating these highs and lows is exhausting, but it challenges me to be consistent in all the work I’m doing through Masterclass to encourage black boys to aspire to higher education and flourish in whatever career they choose.”

Leading Black British Academic, Theologian and activist researching the intersections of faith and racial justice in and through diverse media texts, Professor Robert Beckford commented that,

“These racist incidents, while representing the views of a minority, cannot be separated from the coloniality of the education system or the failure of leading politicians to support anti-racism in symbolic and legislative forms.”

Photo credit: @England on Twitter