One month on from the Euro 2021 Football Final this post still provides a stark reminder of the feelings and thoughts evoked by the outcome of the match.
Remember the days when pre match the hottest topic of conversation was the players’ hair or latest girlfriend? This 2021 England team included twenty-something year olds from working class backgrounds who have stepped up to feed children in the UK, set up access to sports for financially disadvantaged kids, donated millions to our NHS and taken a stand for equality. True role models on and off the pitch.
While the majority were willing the players to score, many of us non white folk were praying the black players didn’t miss because we knew the consequences that lay ahead. As minorities we know that to SOME our ‘Britishness’ is dependent on our visible success. Sure enough within minutes social media was flooded with monkey emojis and calls to ‘go back where you came from’. Stripped of their every good quality down to the colour of their skin.
Given the year of separation we have all endured I was desperate for my sons to watch the match with the only member of my family who has watched an England (male) team in a football final – their Nana. However with the streets trashed with a sea of litter, Italian fans being attacked and the sheer amount of racist abuse being hurled we decided it was safer to travel back in the light this morning. A few hours ago we all stood united as a nation, now the divisions are clear as day.
The end result has been disappointing in more ways than one. I hope Saka, Rashford and Sancho are receiving support at this time.
Being a ‘true’ fan is more than knowing the offside rule and memorising stats – true loyalty is sticking with your team through it all. Here’s to being as positively vocal when it is hard and ugly as we are when it is easy and glorious.
By Raihaanah Ahmed
Raihaanah is 38, lives in St Albans, Hertfordshire and mother of two boys. Founder of the St Albans Food Rescue & Redistribution Hub. Trustee of Sopwell Community Trust. Founder and Market Curator of Caravanserai.
A Freelance Interior Designer and Community Activist who has organised food parcels, free IT lessons for adult learners, covid catch up classes for children, vaccination clinics at local masjid and provides translation and advocacy for BAME people in St Albans.
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