England racial abuse: Boris Johnson has 'turned blind eye to racism in football' says Sheffield MP

A Sheffield MP has scolded the Prime Minister for ‘turning a blind eye to racism in football’ in the wake of online abuse of England’s black football players.

Tuesday, 13th July 2021, 7:26 am
Prime Minister Boris Johnson.

There has been widespread condemnation in the football community since England’s black players were the target of online racial hatred following the Euro Final.

Boris Johnson tweeted yesterday (July 12) that those responsible “should be ashamed of themselves”.

But the Prime Minister – as well as Home Secretary Priti Patel – have been criticized as ‘hypocrites’ in response for historically refusing to support players taking the knee at games, a symbol of protest against racism.

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Now, Sheffield Hallam’s Labour MP Olivia Blake says Mr Johnson needs to “take responsibility” for hate crime in the sport.

“The racism our players have faced online is absolutely horrific, especially when they have done so much to draw people together throughout this tournament. I know the whole of Sheffield stands united against this racist abuse,” the MP said in a statement.

“But events like this don’t happen in a vacuum and instead of warm words, the Prime Minister must start taking responsibility.

“Not only has his Government continually turned a blind eye to racism in football - failing to back our players in taking the knee before matches - but the behaviour and actions of his Government have actively paved the way for the racism England players are facing today.

Sheffield Hallam MP Olivia Blake.

“[The Government] must also recognise that when they use inflammatory language, or deny racism exists in the UK all together, they are feeding the problem.”

The Labour politician called on the Government to bring forward the Online Safety Bill, a legislative action intended to make internet companies more accountable for content shared by users on their platforms.

The bill itself has been criticized by some groups for being “overly simplistic” in how it defines harm.

Labour leader of Sheffield City Council Terry Fox also said in a statement: “I am absolutely disgusted by the hate aimed at the players, those who showed courage to step up and take a penalty for their country on the biggest stage.

“We know racism exists in our country…We must work together, and send a message loud and clear – there is no room for racism in England, in Sheffield, or anywhere else.”

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