Jadon Sancho has issued an apology to his team-mates and supporters following his missed penalty in England’s Euro 2020 final defeat to Italy and called for those who sent him, Bukayo Saka and Marcus Rashford racist abuse to be held accountable.
The 21-year-old forward, who is set to join Manchester United from Borussia Dortmund this summer, was introduced by Gareth Southgate in the dying moments of extra time at Wembley and stepped up to take England’s third spot-kick after Rashford had hit the post.
But Sancho’s strike was saved by Italy goalkeeper Gianluigi Donnarumma, who also went on to deny Saka’s decisive effort from 12 yards to ensure the Three Lions’ 55-year wait for major silverware continued.
Sancho, Saka and Rashford all went on to receive sickening racist messages in the hours that followed which has led to another sharp increase in pressure on social media companies to better tackle abuse, much of which comes from anonymous accounts.
The wider footballing community have joined in condemning online hate in the days that have passed and Rashford broke his silence on Monday, thanking those who had supported him through the ordeal.
Sancho took to Instagram for the first time since the shootout on Wednesday afternoon and began his lengthy statement by saying sorry to those he feel he ‘let down’ with his unsuccessful spot-kick.
‘I’ve had a couple of days to reflect on Sunday’s final and still feel a mix of emotions. I would like to say sorry to all my team-mates, coaching staff and most of all the fans who I let down,’ he told his 6.4 million followers.
‘This is by far the worst feeling I’ve felt in a long time, It’s hard to even put into words the real feeling, but there were so many positives to take away from this tournament though the defeat will hurt for a long time.
‘My first thought before going into any football match is always “How can I help my team?, how am I going to assist? how am I going to score? how am I going to create chances? And that’s exactly what I wanted to do with that penalty, help the team.
‘I was ready and confident to take it, these are the moments you dream of as a kid, it is why I play football. These are the pressured situations you want to be under as a footballer. I’ve scored penalties before at club level, I’ve practiced them countless times for both club and country so I picked my corner but it just wasn’t meant to be this time.’
Sancho underlined that ‘hate will never win’ after being subjected to such vile abuse and urged those who have received similar messages to ‘hold your heads up high and keep chasing the dream’.
‘We all had the same ambitions and objectives. We wanted to bring the trophy home. This has been one of the most enjoyable camps I’ve been part of in my career so far, the togetherness of the team has been unmatched, a real family on and off the pitch,’ the England attacker added.
‘I’m not going to pretend that I didn’t see the racial abuse that me and my brothers Marcus and Bukayo received after the game, but sadly it’s nothing new. As a society we need to do better, and hold these people accountable.
Hate will never win. To all the young people who have received similar abuse, hold your heads up high and keep chasing the dream.
‘I am proud of this England team and how we have united the whole nation in what has been a difficult 18 months for so many people. Much as we wanted to win the tournament, we will build and learn from this experience going forward.
‘I want to say a massive thank you for all the positive messages and love and support that far outweighed the negative. It’s been an honour as always representing England and wearing the Three Lions shirt, and I have no doubt we’ll be back even stronger! Stay safe & see you soon. JS7.’
In a statement on Monday, the FA demanded social media bosses ‘step up’ and bring in the appropriate legislation to deal with racist abuse and online hate.
‘We strongly condemn all forms of discrimination and are appalled by the online racism that has been aimed at some of our England players on social media,’ it said.
‘We could not be clearer that anyone behind such disgusting behaviour is not welcome in following the team.
‘We will do all we can to support the players affected while urging the toughest punishments possible for anyone responsible.
‘We will continue to do everything we can to stamp discrimination out of the game, but we implore government to act quickly and bring in the appropriate legislation so this abuse has real life consequences.
‘Social media companies need to step up and take accountability and action to ban abusers from their platforms, gather evidence that can lead to prosecution and support making the platforms free from this type of abhorrent abuse.’
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