Marcus Rashford's Manchester mural: How a community came together to drown out the racists

Hannah Miller reports on who people are choosing to support as the debate over racism in football rages on

A mural to England footballer Marcus Rashford has gone from being vandalised with racist messages to becoming a symbol of hope and support in the space of 24 hours.

The artwork in Withington, Manchester, was daubed with racist abuse just hours after England lost to Italy in the Euro 2020 finals - a physical example of the kind of attacks Black players were facing on social media after the game.

But the community came together to drown out the messages of hate and replace them with praise, love, and support for Rashford and his teammates.

In pictures and footage, here's how the community of Manchester fought back.

Sunday night

Hours after England's defeat to Italy in a penalty shoot out, racist messages appeared on the Rashford mural.

The mural of Marcus Rashford in Withington was defaced within hours of the footballer missing his penalty in England's game against Italy. Credit: MEN Media

Greater Manchester Police (GMP) said they were called at 2.50am on Monday to reports of the racially aggravated damage to the mural.

Rashford missed a spot kick along with teammates Jadon Sancho and Bukayo Saka in the 3-2 shoutout.

Monday morning

As the country awoke to the news England's football stars had received a torrent of abuse online, the people of Manchester learnt the mural to their hero had been vandalised.

Black bin bags were put up to cover the messages.

Within hours, however, the graffiti was hidden beneath messages of support for Rashford - written on hearts stuck to the bin bags.

"You did great," one Manchester Primary School wrote to the player.

A mural honouring Marcus Rashford, following his campaign to feed schoolchildren, was vandalised with graffiti in Manchester Credit: Peter Byrne/PA

Another message said: "You need to know how much you are loved and admired.

"There will always be hate in this world unfortunately, but there is much, much more love."

It started with a few, and soon grew into a whole wall of support.

Supporters gathered in the rain to cover the mural in messages of love. Credit: PA
'You did great' one message from a Primary School reads. Credit: PA
'You need to know how much you are loved and admired' another message read. Credit: PA

By Monday evening, the mural had become a meeting point for those voicing their support for Rashford and his teammates, and rejecting the racism directed at them.

The footballer himself said "the messages I've received have been positively overwhelming and seeing the response in Withington had me on the verge of tears".

Children place messages of support on the mural of Marcus Rashford Credit: Martin Rickett/PA

By Monday afternoon, the space around the portrait of Rashford was filled with messages, England flags, and love hearts.

By Monday afternoon, people were climbing on ladders to find free space on the wall to add their messages. Credit: PA

One young fan, Jack, said the scenes were "unbelievable".

He asked his mum to bring him to the mural after he finished school so he could add his message of support.


On Tuesday morning, the artist behind the mural removed the racist graffiti and repainted the original design.

Artist Akse P19 removed the abuse entirely, but the positive messages have been kept and now surround the mural entirely.

Akse P19 fixes his mural of Manchester United and England footballer Marcus Rashford after it was graffitied with racist abuse.