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‘I’ll never apologise for who I am’ – Rashford responds to racist abuse

Marcus Rashford
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England forward Marcus Rashford has penned an open letter to fans following the backlash from his penalty miss in the Euro 2020 final.

Marcus Rashford has apologised for his penalty miss in England’s shootout loss to Italy in the Euro 2020 final, but he ‘will never apologise for who I am’.

The 23-year-old, along with Jadon Sancho and Bukayo Saka, missed his spot-kick in Sunday’s final as the Three Lions crashed to a 3-2 shootout defeat to Italy, having drawn 1-1 after extra-time.

The England trio were later subjected to racist abuse on social media at the end of the match. In Rashford’s case, however, trolls took things one step further. They defaced a mural of the forward in his hometown of Withington, Manchester. It prompted angry responses from friends and fans alike, with some people even going to the trouble of trying to cover the mural with messages of support instead.

Now Rashford has shared an open letter across his social media channels to address his penalty miss, the bond he has formed with his England team-mates this summer, the criticism aimed at him, and the kind messages fans had sent him.

Rashford’s statement in full

“I don’t even know where to start and I don’t even know how to put into words how I am feeling at this exact time.

“I’ve had a difficult season, I think that’s been clear for everyone to see and I probably went into that final with a lack of confidence. I’ve always backed myself for a penalty, but something didn’t feel quite right.

“During the long run-up I was saving myself a bit of time and unfortunately the result was not what I wanted. I felt as though I had let my team-mates down. I felt as if I’d let everyone down. A penalty was all I’d been asked to contribute for the team. I can score penalties in my sleep, so why not that one?

“It’s been playing in my head over and over since I struck the ball and there’s probably not a word to quite describe how it feels. Final. 55 years. 1 penalty. History. All I can say is sorry. I wish it had of gone differently.

“Whilst I continue to say sorry I want to shout out my team-mates. This summer has been one of the best camps I’ve experienced and you’ve all played a role in that.

“A brotherhood has been built that is unbreakable. Your success is my success. Your failures are mine.

“I’ve grown into a sport where I expected to read things written about myself.

“Whether it be the colour of my skin, where I grew up, or, most recently, how I decide to spend my time off the pitch.

“I can take critique of my performance all day long, my penalty was not good enough, it should have gone in but I will never apologise for who I am and where I came from. I’ve felt no prouder moment than wearing those three lions on my chest and seeing my family cheer me on in a crowd of 10s of thousands.

“I dreamt of days like this. The messages I’ve received today have been positively overwhelming and seeing the response in Withington had me on the verge of tears. The communities that always wrapped their arms around me continue to hold me up.

“I’m Marcus Rashford, a 23-year-old black man from Withington and Wythenshawe, South Manchester. If I have nothing else I have that.

“For all the kind messages thank you. I’ll be back stronger. We’ll be back stronger.”

The public response

An abundance of letters of goodwill and support have come Rashford’s way, some of which he shared on social media.

England team-mates Harry Kane, Tyrone Mings, and Kalvin Phillips have publicly condemned the abuse aimed at the Manchester United star, Jadon Sancho, and Bukayo Saka.

Three Lions boss Gareth Southgate has labeled the racist abuse from trolls as ‘unforgivable’. UK Prime Minister Boris Johnson and the English Football Association have also condemned it.

The Metropolitan Police, meanwhile, has announced this abuse ‘will not be tolerated’ and plan to launch an investigation.