British Prime Minister Boris Johnson on Wednesday (July 14th) announced his intention to exclude supporters who have used racist slurs against players online from stadiums. The statement comes after such attacks targeted three black players in the England squad.
Following the Euro final, lost by England to Italy on Sunday at Wembley, Jadon Sancho, Bukayo Saka and Marcus Rashford had been targeted by a torrent of racist attacks on social networks. These behaviors had been unanimously denounced by the government and sports authorities.
“I strongly condemn the racist outbursts we witnessed on Sunday evening”Boris Johnson told MPs. “And so, what we are doing today is taking practical steps to ensure that the ban regime [de stade] is changed, so that if you are guilty of racist slurs against footballers online, you will not be able to make it to the match. No buts, no exemptions and no excuses ”, announced the conservative leader.
A petition with over a million signatures
This ban regime was created in 1989 to prevent unrest caused by English hooligans during matches. Boris Johnson’s government was under pressure to act, after a call from Labor, the main opposition party, for such an extension of the ban on online racism, while an internet petition calling for a ban Lifetime has already collected over a million signatures.
Entered at the end of the match on Sunday at Wembley Stadium in London, Jadon Sancho, Bukayo Saka and Marcus Rashford had missed their penalties. These failed shots sealed England’s defeat to Italy, shattering the dream of an entire country hoping to clinch a second major title, fifty-five years after its home success at the World Cup in 1966.
Changing the stadium ban regime is “Complex”, because some of the abusers are abroad, explained Victoria Atkins, secretary of state at the Home Office, in the lower house of Parliament. “We really want to work with football clubs and others to ensure that these orders have the powers that we want them to have”, she added.
The government itself has been accused of hypocrisy, including by the Labor Party, for refusing to condemn supporters booing the Three Lions when they kneel down to denounce racism. A teammate of the three footballers, Tyrone Mings, had also accused the Minister of the Interior, Priti Patel, of having “Stirred up the fire”. Boris Johnson defended himself: “We have been very clear that no one should boo the England team”.
On Tuesday, the Prime Minister received representatives from social media companies like Facebook, Twitter, TikTok, Snapchat and Instagram in Downing Street. The ruler told them to have “Very clearly meant that we are going to legislate to respond to this problem”, in reference to a new bill on online security. “If they don’t remove hatred and racism from their platforms, they risk fines of up to 10% of their global income.”, he hammered.
Greater Manchester Police announced on Wednesday the arrest of a 37-year-old man for posting racist comments on social media after Sunday’s final. He surrendered himself to the police.