Three Black England players, Marcus Rashford, Buyako Saka and Jordan Sancho (23, 19, 21 respectively), took penalties in the EURO Finals 3-2 shoot-out against Italy. They all missed, and England lost. What happened next? RACISM!
Post-game, within the hour, videos of Black and Brown people being violently assaulted began circulating on social media, and emojis of monkeys were left in the comments of the Blacks players’ social media posts. Hardly a post-racial moment, eh? And where are the clips of “disposed” White working-class boys being beaten up?
This evidence shouldn’t ease the conscience of White people, with many White people condemning the racism on social media. Some were even posting in anticipation of the racist attacks to come over the next few days. Why? They know Britain is racist.
The EURO has much in common with the Premier League. 119 Premier League players are in the EUROS, which is the most out of all leagues represented. Those three Black England players all play in the PL, a British Institution. Many internationals view the PL as Britain’s top institution. The PL was described in the 2018 “British Icon Index II” survey as “Global Britain’s best advertisement.” Populus, a world-leading pollster, produced the study. They surveyed 20,000 people from 20 international markets. Using the data, they formed a ranked list of Britain’s best-known institutions, companies and brands in terms of “carrying the story of modern Britain.” Again, the PL came out on top:
“Nearly 70 per cent of all respondents said the [Premier] League makes them feel more positively about the UK, more than any other British Icon, and this proportion rises to 87 per cent among Premier League followers”British Icon Index II, Populus, 2018
Out of the 20 countries, Kenyans (90%) and Nigerians (87%) have the highest feelings of positivity for the PL, with India coming in 5th. All three countries have the second-highest levels of positive sentiment for the other British Icons (which includes the British monarchy, banks and universities). So British football makes people feel more positively about the UK, and they think it carries the story of modern Britain? These people are most notably from the “Colonial” Commonwealth, revealing the profoundly colonial relationships that remain despite de jure decolonisation. This British exceptionalism is the false image we send to the world as we continue to treat the symptoms of racism in football and fail to acknowledge, let alone treat, the disease. How can you take pride in the league when, as Tariq Ali made plain in his recent piece:
“English football and its media outlets are the poster child for this institutional-racism-denying philosophy”Tariq Ali
As the report says, “you don’t have to like the UK to like the Premier League; the League has the power to ‘pull’ people towards the UK.” That said, the PL is a British league tab. It’s in Britain, you can’t separate the two, and there’s still something quintessentially English about the PL: racism. A conflation between English and British? Only if you deny the racism and nationalism that they’re both built upon. There ain’t no Black in the Union Jack.
The British Icon Index II League Table is a formidable list to rank for any Black person. It includes The Monarchy (#10 – head of the “Colonial” Commonwealth), HSBC (#9 – has historical links to slavery) and British Universities (#5 – that produce racism). However, I’d say the PL is the least racist in terms of its legacy out of those four mentioned. Hence, you’re more likely to feel positive or less negative than you would about the Queen or the banks. For instance, flip the list upside down, and you’ve got a variation on a British White Supremacy Icon Index, with the Queen at number one. In a GMB discussion, Kehinde Andrews rightly said the “world’s number one symbol of White supremacy.”
On the one hand, when racism gets the media’s attention, it’s terrible for all of us, particularly Black people; on the other hand, it’s good, especially good for us. The current government and its
Sewage Sewell Report would try and us to sleep by attempting to convince us that Britain is not institutionally racist. Yet social media wakes people up and reminds us all how racist Britain is. It’s like Malcolm said, the Western power structures get these “Uncle Toms to teach you and me, just like novocaine, [to] “suffer peacefully.”
Talking on the BBC Radio 4’s Today Programme, Sewell said, “No-one denies, and no-one is saying racism doesn’t exist. We found anecdotal evidence of this. However, what we did find is that the actual evidence of institutional racism – no, that wasn’t there, we didn’t find that in our report.”
Don’t be fooled. It’s right there in professional football. The Metropolitan Police (also institutionally racist) are investigating the abuse at the EUROS and say it’s “totally unacceptable,” while the FA’s condemned it. Ultimately these institutions will treat the symptoms and not the disease, which is expected when we have a society built on racism. Footballing bodies are more interested in issues when their ‘pockets are being hurt‘, as seen recently in all the drama surrounding the Super League controversy. It is not in their interest.
Let’s wake-up and continue to mobilise, agitate and liberate ourselves from the bonds of White supremacy.