Ledley King column: Brave England trio knew missing would mean abuse


t’s so depressing to write, but I knew the racist abuse directed at Marcus Rashford, Jadon Sancho and Bukayo Saka was coming.

It didn’t go unnoticed to me in the aftermath of England’s defeat on penalties by Italy that it was three black players who missed, and I immediately suspected what they would face online.

They likely knew what they would be subjected to if they missed, too, which makes them even braver for stepping up and can only have added to the enormous pressure.

Racist abuse of players online no longer surprises me or anyone involved in the game, which is a sorry reflection of where we are.

But it still has the power to sadden and sicken me, and it was genuinely tough to read the abuse, knowing what these players have done for their country.

Everyone in the England squad put their best foot forward for their country this summer and came so close to bringing the European Championship home.

I honestly can’t say how much respect I have for the three black players who missed.

Saka is only 19, just starting his professional career, and look what he’s done for England at the Euros! Sancho is a magnificent player and has just earned a huge move back to his home country with Manchester United. After the abuse, part of him must be wondering what he has signed up for.

And Rashford, who has done nothing but great things over the past few years — on and off the pitch. And this is how they’re treated. I despair. The response from the squad has been hugely uplifting and I read the comments from Gareth Southgate yesterday and Harry Kane’s tweet saying we don’t want racists as England fans.

These players are not scared to say what they think, to stand up for their beliefs and that is only made possible because of the unity in the squad. You can see this group are a brotherhood and they know they have the backing from everyone in the camp.

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