Euro 2020: Issues of racism and hooliganism must be dealt with but future is bright for England team

ITV News Sports Editor Steve Scott reports on if English football can do anything else to combat racism in the sport?

On a day when we should be only discussing England’s record-breaking Euros tournament we are forced instead to reflect on the two things that football and English football in particular can’t seem to shake off; racism and hooliganism.

The sickening abuse Bukayo Saka, Marcus Rashford and Jadon Sancho received because they missed their penalties last night is as depressing as it was predictable.

It doesn’t matter that the majority of messages are from overseas, these players should be free to roam social media whenever they want without having to scroll through a single monkey emoji or other racist insult on their timeline.

They need protection from this abuse not counselling for it.

19-year-old Saka was consoled by his team mates on Sunday night after missing his penalty. Credit: PA

For all the slogans and campaigns by various influential bodies, including the players themselves, the level of abuse seems if anything to be getting worse.

The FA has been liaising with the social media giants about an action plan but CEO Mark Bullingham told me today progress had been ‘limited’.

That’s why he’s lobbying the government to make the online safety bill law as quickly as possible.

FA CEO is lobbying the government to make the online safety bill law as quickly as possible. Credit: PA

And then there’s the hooliganism.

Sunday night's scenes at Wembley were appalling and ranged from drunken louts throwing glass beer bottles, singing offensive songs and thinking nothing about urinating in the streets to breaking down security barriers, storming the Wembley concourse trying to get in to watch the match.

Children out for the day of their lives were left cowering and crying at the violence around them and gangways inside the stadium were used as seats blocking anyone from moving around.

It was not safe.

53 arrests were made in and around Wembley and more than a dozen police officers were injured.

An England fan jumps on top of a car outside Wembley stadium. Credit: PA

All this as the world watched on and as the FA considers a joint bid with Ireland for the 2030 World Cup.

But if you can park those two dark clouds for a moment, there is something to celebrate.

OK, it will take the players a while to get over the disappointment of last night but England fans should be feeling very confident about the future.

The progress has been impressive since Gareth Southgate took over after the Euros humiliation at the hands of Iceland five years ago; he has steered his squad to a World Cup semi-final and now a major final for the first time since 1966.

England is no longer a major tournament laughing stock.

Southgate also leads a very young team, the majority of whom are a few years away from their peak which should mean they’ll be even more competitive in Qatar next year.

There’s also quite a bit to like about them, they are humble, respectful and seem to really enjoy playing for their country which hasn’t always been the case.

This is very much the beginning.