By Shefa Ali
Even if you are not a football fan (which I certainly am not) you couldn’t escape the media frenzy of this week’s Euro 2020 final of England vs Italy game. I didn’t even watch it, but I woke up to a very sad husband whose week was ruined with the result. That aside let’s talk about the unexpected aftermath of the game.
What kind of a world do we live in that players were subject to online abuse on social media with racist remarks following England’s loss because the ones who missed the penalties happened to be people of colour.
On Monday, Marcus Rashford publicly apologised for his penalty miss during the match in a heart wrenching post, but proudly added that he would never apologise for who he was. It was a beautiful post in which he spoke about the brotherhood of his team and how he felt he had let his teammates down. What’s gone wrong here? I don’t know much about football but I thought the point of being and supporting a team is about togetherness, about community and about unity.
It’s not just about goals and trophies and giving up on each other when things don’t go the way you want.
Who could have ever seen that coming, as a sportsman of colour your acceptance comes with conditions, if you ask me it was the fans that let England down not the players.
I thought football was about sons and fathers watching games together, some even say there’s a beauty and a grace to it, but sadly this week we saw how it can bring out the worst in some people.
Like I said, I am not a football fan, but I believe football is not just a game; reflecting upon my husband’s love for football, I think it’s a foundation on which some people create lives that they truly love. I think that on occasions football can help break the ice with strangers, conversations that start by debating about football clubs, matches and players with fans from rival clubs can eventually lead to building meaningful friendships that will last a lifetime.
I believe we can learn life lessons and draw inspiration from football players and their coaches, which I will certainly do from Marcus Rashford.
• The author is a consultant and coach. Instagram handle: @miss_shefa, Website: missshefa.com
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