Lewis Hamilton has blasted the “unacceptable” and “disgusting” racist abuse aimed at England footballers Marcus Rashford, Jadon Sancho and Bukayo Saka on social media, stressing the need for a “society that doesn’t require black players to prove their value only through victory.”
England’s hopes of ending their 55-year wait for a major trophy were dashed on Sunday night after losing on penalties to Italy in the Euro 2020 final, with Rashford, Sancho and Saka missing their spot-kicks.
After the match, all three players were targeted with racist language and emojis on their social media accounts – with the abuse condemned by the FA, manager Gareth Southgate and Prime Minister Boris Johnson.
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And in a series of impassioned posts on Instagram, Formula 1’s seven-time world champion Hamilton also voiced his support for the three players, and his anger about what his countrymen suffered after the match.
“The racial abuse on social media towards our players after yesterday’s game is unacceptable,” Hamilton posted.
“This sort of ignorance has to be stopped. Tolerance and respect for players of colour should not be conditional. Our humanity should not be conditional.”
In a longer caption, Hamilton – one of sport’s most influential and successful black athletes – then explained why a miss would feel like a “two fold failure” for a minority representing their country as he detailed the “layered experience” and the need for acceptance in society.
A post shared by Lewis Hamilton (@lewishamilton)
“So much was running through my mind as a watched the final moments of the match last night,” said Hamilton.
“On one hand I was so proud of how far we have come… to be in the final and with such a diverse team is a huge achievement we should all be proud of but as the players stepped up to take the penalties I was worried.
“The pressure to deliver is felt by every sportsperson but when you are a minority representing your country this is a layered experience. Success would feel like a double victory, but a miss feels like a two-fold failure when it’s compounded with racist abuse.
“I so badly wanted that win like all of you but for me it was for much more than winning the euros, it was a much bigger picture.
“However, the disgusting behaviour by the few, shows how much work that still needs to be done.
“I hope that this opens a conversation around acceptance. We must work towards a society that doesn’t require Black players to prove their value or place in society only through victory.
“Ultimately everyone on the England team should be so proud of their achievement and how they represented us.”
Southgate called the abuse “unforgiveable” while Boris Johnson stated: “Those responsible for this appalling abuse should be ashamed of themselves.” The Metropolitan Police also condemned the “unacceptable” abuse, adding it will be investigating the “offensive and racist” social media posts.
And Hamilton added: “Please call out those you see posting hatred online. Challenge them to see the humanity in everyone regardless of their colour.
“Super proud of how far the England team were able to go. Super proud of Bukayo Saka, Jadon Sancho, Marcus Rashford and the entire team.”
Hamilton has been a vocal and prominent against racism in recent years, and is soon to launch the first findings of his Hamilton Commission – set up with the aim of improving representation of black people in motorsport.
He is currently 32 points behind Max Verstappen in the 2021 championship, ahead of this weekend’s British GP at Silverstone.
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