The professional soccer world cheered the triumph of Italy at the UEFA European Championships as gli Azzurri won the tournament on penalties. At the other end of the spectrum, England was left bereft at its failure to win a first major title in 55 years. Bakary Saka, England’s newest soccer sensation missed the final penalty to join Marcus Rashford and Jadon Sancho as those who missed for England in the penalty shootout. Saka recently revealed his mind instantly turned to the online abuse he would receive as the Italian goalkeeper, Gianluigi Donnarumma, saved his penalty.
Saka has been one of the new stars to burst onto the European soccer scene for his club, Arsenal, and England at Euro 2020. Despite his age and inexperience, Saka became a trusted part of England’s squad and started the Euro 2020 semi-final. Saka was trusted by the England coach, Gareth Southgate, to be his first substitute in the Final against Italy.
Despite the plaudits, he received for his performances during the tournament, Saka revealed his mind turned to the online abuse he knew would come his way after his penalty miss in the Final. The Guardian reports the emotional reaction of Saka to his penalty miss was prompted by the team missing out on the trophy and the online reaction he knew was coming.
The three players to miss their penalties for England have all reported receiving racist abuse, with Saka criticizing social media platforms for their approach. Saka emphasized the need for stricter controls from platforms to avoid children and young people facing similar problems.
Manchester United forward, Marcus Rashford has been praised for his work as a campaigner for children during the pandemic. A mural in his home city of Manchester was defaced with racist insults following England’s penalty loss, during which he missed a penalty. In response, local people moved quickly to cover the defaced mural with messages of support for the soccer player.
Saka explained he was certain both he and his fellow players would be subjected to racist abuse after missing their penalties. Fans of England have been criticized for booing the team when they took a knee to highlight racism in society before their Euro 2020 games. Five people have been arrested as investigations into the abuse of the three England players continue.