Blackpool leaders demand tougher action to stop online racism

Civic leaders in Blackpool have condemned racism against England footballers following the team’s defeat to Italy on Sunday.

By Shelagh Parkinson
Wednesday, 14th July 2021, 4:06 pm
Town hall leaders have called for tough action against online racists
Town hall leaders have called for tough action against online racists

Online abuse was suffered by players Marcus Rashford Bukayo Saka and Jadon Sancho and a mural of Marcus Rashford was defaced.

Calls have been made for the government and social media companies to do more to combat racism in the sport.

Blackpool Council leader Coun Lynn Williams warned there “is no place whatsoever for racism in any town, country, situation or circumstance.”

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Council leader Coun Lynn Williams

In July last year the council unanimously agreed a notice of motion, put forward by Coun Williams to support the anti-racist aims of Black LIves Matter and other anti-racism campaigns.

Coun Williams said: “The young English football team have done us all proud over these last few weeks and in particular on Sunday night.

“What they did was offer us all hope, a sense of togetherness and demonstrated real grit and resilience right throughout the tournament.

“I’m sure many residents in Blackpool feel inspired by what they did and what they stand for – I know I do.

Deputy Mayor Coun Paula Burdess

“I’m proud to say that as a town we strive to celebrate and support each other, whether you live here or are visiting.

“We unequivocally stand together with the English team celebrating their achievements and condemning any form of racism or abuse.

“It is high time the Government acted against social media platforms, there must be an effective way to ban this abhorrent behaviour online and ensure those responsible are held accountable”.

Coun Paula Burdess, who was elected as Blackpool’s first black deputy mayor last year, branded the racism directed at the England players “deplorable and sadly predictable”.

She said: “It is frustrating to be having this conversation given the media attention to Gareth Southgate’s anti-racist stance throughout the tournament. Was nobody listening?

“Coming from Manchester, I understand football is never just a game; at its best it brings the supporters and players from diverse communities and countries closer together but at its worst can drive them apart.

“Through the tournament we saw football supporters do both.

“The prospect of winning the competition raised everyone’s hopes and bolstered national pride; and winning would be just the remedy we needed to compensate us for the seemingly never-ending isolation.

“I hoped they would win – everybody did. Then for most of us the disappointment of losing makes us look for something to blame.

“The majority of us could keep it rational and stick to the ‘thing’ that went wrong – in our critique of the game, the tactics, the set pieces, the penalties but there will always be a minority with a thuggish mentality who when the loss is too much to bear have to attack the ‘someone’ (always from the safety of their armchair and hiding behind a keyboard).

“These cowards feel no shame or reservation in personally attacking and threatening these players and their families with unfiltered vitriolic bile that they can easily publish on any social media platform that will have them.

“Marcus Rashford traced back one of the worst threats he received to a primary school teacher! At times like this you have to question the social (ir)responsibility of these platforms.

“On a positive note it is in moments like this that good sense prevails and people come together in solidarity, accepting ‘there is more that unites us, than divides us’ .

“They are determined to raise awareness, to challenge and repair the division that racist views and behaviours can cause in our communities and accept that we live in a diverse population and celebrate the richness it brings to our lives.”

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