England and Manchester United striker Marcus Rashford apologized for his failure on penalties but said he “will never apologize for who I am” after being one of the three players who were racially abused after England’s final defeat at Euro 2020 against Italy.
Rashford, as well as Jadon Sancho and Bukayo Saka missed their shots on goal.
All three were targeted on social media after the game.
“I felt like I was letting everyone down” Rashford wrote in a statement.
The 23-year-old added: “I can get criticism for my performance all day long, my penalty was not good enough, it should have been applied but I will never apologize for who I am and where I am from. I come.
“I haven’t felt a prouder moment than wearing these three lions on my chest and seeing my family cheering me on in a crowd of tens of thousands. “
A mural in Rashford’s hometown of Withington was disfigured after his failed penalty, before being covered in messages of support.
Earlier Monday, England boss Gareth Southgate said the racist abuse after the defeat was “unforgivable”, while Prime Minister Boris Johnson and the Football Association also condemned them.
The Metropolitan Police are investigating the abuse and said “it will not be tolerated”, while the British Football Police Unit (UKFPU) has also opened an investigation.
Full statement from Marcus Rashford:
“I don’t even know where to start and I don’t even know how to express how I’m feeling right now.
“I had a difficult season, I think it’s clear to everyone and I probably entered this final with a lack of self-confidence. I always supported myself for a penalty, but something was wrong.
“During the long preparation period I was saving myself a bit of time and unfortunately the result was not what I wanted. I felt like I had let down my teammates. I felt like I was letting everyone down. A penalty was all I was asked to contribute for the team. I can score penalties in my sleep, so why not this one?
“It has played in my head over and over since I kicked the ball and there is probably no word to describe exactly how I feel. Final. 55 years. 1 penalty. History. All I can say is sorry. gone differently.
“Although I continue to apologize, I want to yell my teammates. This summer has been one of the best camps I have experienced and you all played a part in it.
“An unbreakable fraternity has been built. Your success is my success. Your failures are mine.
“I became a sport where I expected to read things written about myself.
“Whether it’s the color of my skin, where I grew up or, more recently, how I decide to spend my time off the pitch.
“I can be criticized for my performance all day, my penalty was not good enough, it should have come in but I will never apologize for who I am and where I come from. I haven’t felt a prouder moment than wearing these three of the lions on my chest and seeing my family cheering me on in a crowd of tens of thousands.
“I dreamed of days like this. The messages I received today were positively overwhelming and seeing the response to Withington made me cry. The communities that always surrounded me with their arms continue to support me.
“I am Marcus Rashford, a 23 year old black man from Withington and Wythenshawe in south Manchester. If I have nothing else, I have this. Thanks for all the nice messages. I will come back stronger. We will be back stronger. “
Data highlights the extent of abuse
The Professional Footballers Association (PFA) said data shared with Channel 4 News after the Euro 2020 final showed more than 850,000 tweets were analyzed across the tournament and showed:
• 1,913 reported as potentially abusive, specifically targeting Jadon Sancho, Bukayo Saka, Marcus Rashford and Raheem Sterling.
• 167 messages were considered “high risk” abuse.
The PFA said that while a number of these tweets have been deleted, the accounts have not been permanently suspended by Twitter.
“Our preliminary analysis suggests that the volume of abuse reported around the Euro 2020 final, primarily targeting Jadon Sancho, Bukayo Saka, Marcus Rashford and Raheem Sterling, was higher than the rest of the tournament combined,” added the PFA.
Twitter said it deleted more than 1,000 posts in the past 24 hours and suspended a number of accounts for violating its rules.
Facebook said it recently announced tougher measures on its Instagram platform, including permanently deleting accounts that repeatedly send abusive direct messages.
“You are not England fans and we don’t want you”
England captain Harry Kane told those behind the racist abuse of Rashford, Sancho and Saka: “You are not a fan of England and we don’t want you. “
The Tottenham forward added on Twitter: “They deserve support and support, not the vile racist abuse they have suffered since last night.
“Three guys who’ve been brilliant all summer had the courage to step in and grab a pen when the stakes were high.
“If you abuse someone on social media, you are not a fan of England and we don’t want you. “
Defender Tyrone Mings also took to Twitter to talk about his pride that the team made it to the final, but added: “Waking up today and seeing my brothers being racially abused for being brave enough to getting in a position to help this country makes me sick, but does not surprise me. “
He went on to criticize Home Secretary Priti Patel, who last month described players kneeling against racism as a “politics of gestures”.
England midfielder Kalvin Phillips said he was “disgusted” by the racist abuse directed at his teammates.
“Absolutely disgusted by the unnecessary racist abuse I have seen online directed at my teammates,” the Leeds player said on Twitter.
“Nothing but love and respect for my brothers for their courage BukayoSaka87, Sanchooo10 and MarcusRashford, hold your head up. We will come back stronger. “
Free meals and book clubs – Rashford’s work off the pitch
In October last year, Rashford received an MBE for services to vulnerable children in the UK during the coronavirus pandemic.
He successfully campaigned for the government to allow around 1.3 million children to claim free school lunch vouchers during the summer holidays in England.
Rashford has also set up a book club to encourage underprivileged children to read more.
He has previously highlighted incidents where he was the target of racial abuse, claiming to have received “at least 70 racist insults” on social media after Manchester United’s Europa League final loss to Villarreal in May.