England defender Harry Maguire says he is not surprised by the “terrible” racist abuse directed towards England team-mates Marcus Rashford, Jadon Sancho and Bukayo Saka.
Rashford, Sancho and Saka all missed from 12 yards as England went down to a 3-2 penalty shoot-out defeat against Italy in Sunday’s Euro 2020 final, which finished 1-1 after extra time.
The trio were quickly subjected to vile abuse on social media, while a mural of Rashford in his native Withington was defaced.
People flocked to the artwork in the Manchester suburb to attach messages of support and admiration for Rashford, who campaigned successfully for free school meals provision to be extended for struggling families during the coronavirus pandemic.
Those scenes were representative of an outpouring of support for the three England players and Gareth Southgate’s squad as a whole, with Maguire – whose successful penalty clattered into the top corner and broke the in-net camera – praising their bravery under intense pressure.
“It does not surprise me,” he told the Sun when addressing the racist abuse. “For the three lads who have given everything for the country and been so brave to get this is terrible.
“When I was 19 or 20, I would have been standing there saying ‘I don’t want to take one’.
“So, look at the courage and bravery of these young lads, look at the age of Bukayo, Jadon and Marcus.
“The things I have gone through have made me more confident and have given me belief.
“These people who are being abusive would not be able to handle the pressure.
“It is the highest amount of pressure you will feel, so to do it at their age and to show such bravery should be applauded.
“I spoke with the three lads afterwards. I have checked up with them and seen how they are, but they are courageous lads.
“They should be applauded rather than criticised.”
If the awful slurs directed towards Rashford, Sancho and Saka were the focus of attention after the match, beforehand numerous instances of disorder involving fans outside and around Wembley amounted to a dark day for English football.
Some supporters gained access to the stadium without tickets and videos showing violence between fans were rife on social media.
UEFA has opened disciplinary proceedings in relation to incidents inside Wembley, with events surrounding the ground also set to be investigated.
The whole affair does no favours for a mooted England and Ireland joint bid to host the 2030 World Cup, although matters struck much closer to home for Maguire, whose father was trampled and left with two suspected broken ribs after – according to The Sun – ticketless fans gained access through a disabled entrance.
“My dad was in the stampede. I have not spoken with him too much, but I am pleased my kids didn’t go to the game,” the Manchester United centre-back said.
“It was scary. He said he was scared and I don’t want anyone to experience that at a football match.
“It was not a nice experience; it shook him up. But he was fortunate as every game he has been to, he has had my nephew or one of my kids on his shoulders.
“So, I’m thankful that did not happen as it could have been a really serious moment.”
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