England forward Marcus Rashford has slammed social media trolls who have racially abused him and his teammates Jadon Sancho and Bukayo Saka after Gareth Southgate's men failed to end their 55-year wait for a major international trophy in the European Championship final.
Harry Kane and his boys made a perfect start to the match against Italy, leading 1-0 in just the second minute, but allowed Roberto Mancini's side to equalise in the 67th minute.
However, the Three Lions were again in the lead during the penalty shootout after Kane and Harry Maguire's strikes. But they lost the plot and the game after Rashford, Sancho, and Saka missed consecutive penalties to hand the trophy on a platter to the Italians.
Many fans have responded by racially abusing Rashford, Sancho, and Saka on various social media platforms.
Of the three footballers, Rashford has now responded to the racial abuse he has been receiving on Twitter, Facebook, and Instagram.
While the Manchester United striker has said sorry for missing a penalty in England's loss to Italy, he has expressed his pride in being "a 23 year old, black man from Withington".
Marcus Rashford's Response to Trolls
An emotional Rashford wrote on Twitter: "I don't even know where to start and I don't even know how to put into words how I am feeling at this exact time. I've had a difficult season, I think that's been clear for everyone to see and I probably went into that final with a lack of confidence…"
"… I've always backed myself for a penalty, but something didn't feel quite right. During the long run-up I was saving myself a bit of time and unfortunately the result was not what I wanted".
"I felt as though I had let my team-mates down. I felt as if I'd let everyone down. A penalty was all I'd been asked to contribute for the team. I can score penalties in my sleep, so why not that one? …"
"…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 off differently", he added.
Rashford lauded his England colleagues for their support during the prestigious tournament, while emphasising that the team shared an unbreakable bond.
"Whilst I continue to say sorry I want to shout out my team-mates. This summer has been one of the best camps I've experienced and you've all played a role in that. A brotherhood has been built that is unbreakable. Your success is my success. Your failures are mine".
Rashford, whose mural was damaged in his hometown of Manchester after he missed an important penalty in the Euro 2020 final, vowed to return stronger than ever.
"I've grown into a sport where I expected to read things written about myself. Whether it be the colour of my skin, where I grew up, or, most recently, how I decide to spend my time off the pitch", Rashford said.
"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. I've felt no prouder moment than wearing those three lions on my chest and seeing my family cheer me on in a crowd of 10s of thousands".
"I'm Marcus Rashford, a 23-year-old black man from Withington and Wythenshawe, South Manchester. If I have nothing else I have that. For all the kind messages thank you. I'll be back stronger. We'll be back stronger", he concluded.
British Prime Minister Reacts to Social Media Abuse of England Players
Britain's government led by Prime Minister Boris Johnson has taken swift action against the racial abuse of the three footballers, asking social media giants Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram to take down such posts as soon as they are posted on their platforms.
Johnson and other leaders have also publicly blasted social media trolls for their shameful behaviour.
"For those who have been directing racist abuse at some of the players, I say 'Shame on you'", Johnson said during a press conference on Monday. "And I hope you will crawl back under the rock from which you emerged".
"I share the anger at appalling racist abuse of our heroic players", British Culture Secretary Oliver Dowden tweeted.
I share the anger at appalling racist abuse of our heroic players.— Oliver Dowden (@OliverDowden) July 12, 2021
Social media companies need to up their game in addressing it and, if they fail to, our new Online Safety Bill will hold them to account with fines of up to 10 per cent of global revenue.
"Social media companies need to up their game in addressing it and, if they fail to, our new Online Safety Bill will hold them to account with fines of up to 10 percent of global revenue", he said in a warning to Twitter, Facebook, and Instagram.
What American Social Media Giants Are Doing About Racist Abuse
"The abhorrent racist abuse directed at England players last night has absolutely no place on Twitter", a spokesperson for the micro-blogging platform said.
"In the past 24 hours, through a combination of machine learning based automation and human review, we have swiftly removed over 1,000 Tweets and permanently suspended a number of accounts for violating our rules — the vast majority of which we detected ourselves proactively using technology".
Meanwhile, Facebook's statement on the matter said that it had "quickly removed comments and accounts directing abuse at England's footballers last night and we'll continue to take action against those that break our rules".