Rangers have shown their class with a message of support for Bukayo Saka after the England and Arsenal youngster was subjected to vile racist abuse in the wake of his missed penalty in the Euro 2020 final.
In the moments leading up to kick-off, James Tavernier posed for a photograph with Arsenal captain Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang and the pair held aloft a Rangers shirt emblazoned with Saka’s name and his favoured No.7.
The autographs of Steven Gerrard’s squad covered the blue strip in a clear show of support for the 19-year-old Arsenal and England forward, who is yet to join up with the Gunners and will not feature in Glasgow.
A tweet from Rangers’ official Twitter account read, ‘#EveryoneAnyone’, and another from Arsenal simply said: ‘Respect.’
Saka was on the receiving end of a torrent of racist abuse after his decisive spot-kick was saved by Gianluigi Donnarumma in England’s penalty shootout defeat to Italy in the European Championships final.
Marcus Rashford and Jadon Sancho also failed to convert their efforts from 12 yards and they too were subjected to online hate which has led to yet more pressure on social media companies to better tackle the problem.
The wider footballing community have joined in condemning the horrendous abuse aimed at the trio and Saka called on Facebook, Instagram and Twitter to do more to eradicate such messages as he spoke for the first time on Thursday.
‘I have stayed away from social media for a few days to spend time with my family and reflect on the last few weeks,’ he told his 2.2 million followers on Instagram.
‘This message won’t do it justice how grateful I am for all the love that I have received, and I feel that I need to thank everyone who has supported me.
‘It was an honour to be part of an England squad that leads by example, they are brothers for life and I’m grateful for everything that I have learnt from every one of the players and staff who worked so hard.
To help that team reach our first final in 55 years, seeing my family in the crowd, knowing what they’ve given up to help me get there, that meant everything to me.
‘There are no words to tell you how disappointed I was with the result and my penalty. I really believed we would win this for you. I’m sorry that we couldn’t bring it home for you this year, but I promise you that we will give everything we’ve got to make sure this generation knows how it feels to win.
‘My reaction post-match said it all, I was hurting so much and I felt like I’d let you all and my England family down, but I can promise you this: I will not let that moment or the negativity that I’ve received this week break me.
‘For those who have campaigned on my behalf and sent me heartfelt letters, wished me and my family well – I’m so thankful. This is what football should be about. Passion, people of all races, genders, religions and backgrounds coming together with one shared joy of the rollercoaster of football.
‘To the social media platforms Instagram, Twitter and Facebook, I don’t want any child or adult to have to receive the hateful and hurtful messages that me, Marcus and Jadon have received this week.
‘I knew instantly the kind of hate that I was about to receive and that is a sad reality that your powerful platforms are not doing enough to stop these messages.
‘There is no place for racism or hate of any kind in football or in any area of society and to the majority of people coming together to call out the people sending these messages, by taking action and reporting these comments to the police and by driving out the hate by being kind to one another, we will win. Love always wins.’
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