Perhaps Marcus Rashford was trying to be too precise. Whilst Frank Lampard, my dad and thousands of others criticised Rashford’s stuttering steps in the build-up to his penalty, he successfully sent Gianluigi Donnarumma the wrong way. Had his effort been just a few inches to the right it would have been hailed as a brilliant penalty. But elite sport is a game of inches.
By Isaak Lewis-Smith
Tonight, at the Estadio do Dragao in Porto, Chelsea play Manchester City in what is set to be a mouthwatering finale to this year’s UEFA Champions League. The only sporting competition I know the theme tune for, I’ve hardly missed a final since that famous night in 2005 when Steven Gerrard’s Liverpool hauled themselves back against Carlo Ancelotti’s inimitable AC Milan.
by Howard Green
From a certain perspective, mobilisation amongst football fans is something that is wasted in the route toward social progress. Frequently individuals sacrifice their money and a vast amount of their free time to follow their football club, or just to participate in the general activity of football. If this sort of frequency and mass of mobilisation were done in the name of protest and justice, we would probably see greater change in our society. But since the initial announcement of the breakaway European Super League, the views of the most loyal of football fans are not being taken into account. A powerful elite are changing their audience, and in many ways it is necessary that football fans must call out what this is: mere capitalism.
by Jonathan Lee
Content warning: sexual assault, racist slurs, violence
On Monday 14th October, a UEFA Euro Qualifiers match between Bulgaria and England was forced to stop on two occasions after racist abuse from Bulgarian fans was aimed at Black players on the England team. The match, which was already subject to a partial stadium ban for previous incidents of racism, saw black clad, nazi saluting, monkey-chanting skinheads hijack the proceedings and force the stadium to issue announcements and the refereee to halt the game.
The three step UEFA protocol (which reached the second step on Monday night, the third would have abandoned the match) has been criticised for being ineffective and too soft to counter discrimination. Whilst UEFA’s public reaction to the racism has been firm, calling for “football’s family” to “wage war on the racists”, whether or not neo-nazis should be given two free gos at abusing Black English players before they are punished is a valid point.
by Jonathan Lee
After the 2018 FIFA World Cup in Russia, England football fans had enjoyed a slightly improved reputation internationally for behaving themselves a bit better at away games in Europe. This illusion was shattered last week in Portugal for all the world to see, as boozy lads in shorts and polos attacked locals with bottles, wrecked cars, and clashed with police on the streets of Porto. It turns out that, without Russian ultras and law enforcement to keep them in line, England’s lads-on-tour stag party of intolerance and imperialist nostalgia is just as present in the travelling fan culture as it always has been. Embedded homophobia, a staple of the hooligan culture of old, also reared its ugly head again in Portugal with some England fans feeling unsafe among their own supporters.
“I experienced more homophobia in 3 hours here than I did in 3 weeks in Russia,” said Joe White, an English football fan and co-founder of LGBT+ supporters group Three Lions Pride. “And this has all come from England fans” he added. “LGBT+ is clearly not welcome.”