News opinion: Racism online needs to be called out immediately - and taking the knee demands respect, not jeers

The words are chilling, depressing, enraging and above all saddening. Read the testimony that we print from Black Lives Matter campaigner Midia Medina today, and then try to state that there isn't a problem in parts of this country that needs fixing.

Tuesday, 13th July 2021, 9:59 am
England's forward Marcus Rashford reacts after he fails to score in the penalty shootout during the Euro 2020 final against Italy on Sunday Picture: John Sibley/AFP via Getty Images

Midia says that the day after the Euro 2020 final she felt unwilling to leave the house, such was the tenor of the online abuse heaped on the England players unlucky enough to miss a penalty on Sunday night.

An over-reaction, you might think? Well, not really, given the sick nature of some of the social media posts doing the rounds about lynching. And it’s not just an issue that happens elsewhere, as we have seen from the swift – and laudable – action Havant and Waterlooville FC have had to take to relieve a volunteer of his role after unpleasant and stupid material was posted.

The stupidity of it all is clear. Even on a basic level, this is a multicultural team from a multicultural country, all of whom are English. One of the most pleasing things about the tournament was the England team’s unity and common purpose; if only the more boneheaded fans could follow their lead.

Sign up to our daily newsletter

The i newsletter cut through the noise

There is widespread condemnation of racist tweets and the like, and we should not forget that this is only a minority spreading this bile. But the sad fact that the final whistle saw football players targeted for the colour of their skin shows that there is still plenty to be done.

Anyone who jeers players taking the knee before games, in a bid to highlight racism both direct and structural, needs to have a look in the mirror. The toxic digital wave that was unleashed on Sunday shows exactly why footballers have decided that a public and regular statement is necessary and that plenty more people need to educate themselves over the basic principles of equality and respect. This state of affairs really is not OK.