Petition to ban racists from football games reaches a million signatures

Credit: PA

A petition to serve racists with a lifetime ban from football games has gained more than one million signatures, making it one of the most signed online petitions ever.

It passed the milestone on Wednesday morning, days after being set up in response to racist social media posts directed at footballers Marcus Rashford, Jadon Sancho and Bukayo Saka after England's Euro 2020 final loss on Sunday.

The three players missed penalties in the 3-2 shootout against Italy.

Football fans Shaista Aziz, Amna Abdullatif and Huda Jawad set up the page.

It calls for the Football Association to work with the government to ban perpetrators of racist abuse from all matches in England for life.

Huda Jawad, one of the petition's organisers, says racism is present in football because racism is present in society

On reaching the million mark, Ms Jawad said: "To go over one million… we feel validated in our resistance to racism and that what we have been able to articulate is the sentiment that is held nationwide.

She told the PA news agency: "This is not our petition – this is the nation speaking and saying this is not okay and enough is enough.

"It’s not about just educating people and having a softly-softly approach – this is the point where we are very clear about our red lines."

"As multi-racial football fans, we finally feel represented by this anti-racist and inclusive England team," the petition reads.

"There should be no room for racists and bigotry in football or society."

The three women had hoped to gain 500,000 signatures, but it has easily surpassed that to become one of the most-signed online petitions ever.

A petition needs 100,000 signatures to be debated in Parliament - meaning MPs will decide whether or not to make the call law.

It has been shared on social media by various public figures, such as comedian Eddie Izzard, actor Will Poulter and TV personality Judge Rinder.

The condemnation follows similar outrage across the political spectrum, from royalty, and the footballing world.

"You're not England fans and we don't want you," England captain Harry Kane told those who sent abusive messages following the Three Lions' loss.

The prime minister told racists they should "crawl back under a rock".

"To those who have been directing racist abuse at some of the players, I say: shame on you, and I hope you will crawl back under the rock from which you emerged," Mr Johnson said at a briefing on Monday.

Prime Minister Boris Johnson and Carrie Johnson in the stands Credit: PA

Home Secretary Priti Patel also tweeted her "disgust" at the abuse faced.

But some comments from the government have been criticised following both the PM and Ms Patel's stance on players taking the knee in support of Black Lives Matter.

Retweeting Ms Patel's condemnation of the abuse, England star Tyrone Mings wrote: "You don’t get to stoke the fire at the beginning of the tournament by labelling our anti-racism message as ‘Gesture Politics’ & then pretend to be disgusted when the very thing we’re campaigning against, happens."

Labour also said the PM's words of condemnation "ring hollow" after his stance on players taking the knee.

The Labour leader said those who sent racist abuse should be "ashamed of themselves".

Sir Keir Starmer added: "This is about leadership and I’m afraid the Prime Minister has failed the test of leadership because whatever he says today about racism, he had a simple choice at the beginning of this tournament in relation to the booing of those who were taking the knee."

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

Prince William, who is president of the FA, said: "It is totally unacceptable that players have to endure this abhorrent behaviour. It must stop now and all those involved should be held accountable."

The Duke and Duchess of Cornwall tweeted message of support featuring a quote by Prince Charles celebrating the UK's diversity.

Former FA chair Lord Triesman said: “I share the view that people who were displaying their hooliganism and racism are scum. They have nothing to do with England or its football team.

ITV News Correspondent Hannah Miller reports on the people showing support to England footballers after they were subject to vile racist abuse following England's defeat to Italy

“As chairman of the FA, I sought legislation which would enable us to ban for life – one strike and they are out – anybody convicted of any of these crimes from every football ground in the United Kingdom, no excuses, no second chances, would the government support that?”

Meanwhile, abusive graffiti daubed on a mural of Marcus Rashford less than hour after the match ended is being dealt with by police as a racist incident.On Tuesday, hundreds of people took the knee by the mural in a gesture of anti-racism.