Football

Rashford: I will never apologise for who I am

Teammate Mings hits out at British Home Secretary Patel for 'stoking the fire'

England's Marcus Rashford said he will "never apologise for who I am" in an emotional statement, after receiving racist abuse following the side's Euro 2020 final defeat.

The Manchester United forward was one of three players, along with Jadon Sancho and Bukayo Saka, who were attacked by racist trolls after missing penalties in Sunday's 3-2 shoot-out defeat by Italy.

Rashford's England teammate Tyrone Mings criticised British Home Secretary Priti Patel, saying she had "stoked the fire" by defending those who booed players taking the knee.

Rashford has become a hero to many outside football by lobbying the British government to provide free school meals for underprivileged children during the coronavirus pandemic.

"I'm Marcus Rashford, 23-year-old black man from Withington and Wythenshawe, South Manchester. If I have nothing else I have that," Rashford wrote in a statement on Twitter.

Rashford, who came on late in the second period of extra-time, apologised for his penalty miss and said "something didn't feel quite right" when he walked over to take the kick.

"It's been playing in my head over and over since I struck the ball and there's probably not a word to quite describe how it feels. Final. 55 years. 1 penalty. History. All I can say is sorry. I wish it had gone differently," he wrote.

"I can take critique of my performance all day long, my penalty was not good enough, it should have gone in. But I will never apologise for who I am and where I came from," Rashford added.

Images on social media showed a mural honouring him in his hometown of Withington had been defaced before locals covered the hateful language with messages of support.

"Seeing the response in Withington had me on the verge of tears," Rashford said.

RESPONSIBILITY

On the penalty miss, his United manager Ole Gunnar Solskjaer told the club's website: "When you step up to take a penalty, I think you've already won.

"You've taken on the responsibility and I'm sure many of the players are hoping I don't want to take a penalty...

"You learn from it and definitely come back stronger."

Meanwhile, Mings' criticism is not the first time he has disagreed with Patel.

The Aston Villa defender criticised her after the opening Euro 2020 win over Croatia for her remarks that taking the knee was "gesture politics".

She also refused to condemn England fans who booed the team for doing it.

English Premier League teams have taken the knee since last year, following the murder of George Floyd by a white police officer in the United States.

Patel had said on Monday the racial abuse of the three players was "disgusting" but it did not wash with Mings.

"You don't get to stoke the fire at the beginning of the tournament by labelling our anti-racism message as 'Gesture Politics' and then pretend to be disgusted when the very thing we're campaigning against, happens," tweeted Mings.

The British government warned social media platforms they must take action over racist messages sent to England's black players of face or they would face consequences.

"We need to ensure that those platforms take action and, if they don't, the government will take action against them," Stephen Barclay, chief secretary to the Treasury, told Sky News.

There could also be consequences for Britain's chances of hosting major tournaments, after the carnage which saw ticketless fans storm Wembley and 86 people arrested for infractions ranging from public order offences to actual bodily harm, drunk and disorderly behaviour and criminal damage.

Ex-EPL player and England Under-21 international Anton Ferdinand, who was the victim of a racial slur by then-England captain John Terry in 2011, said England should be barred from hosting major tournaments till these issues are resolved.

He told PA news agency: "There definitely should be consequences. That's how people learn, but you've got to be willing to learn, that's the problem." - AFP, REUTERS

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