The Arsenal winger thanked his family and friends for their support, while hitting back at online platforms for failing to curb attacks
Bukayo Saka says that he will not let his Euro 2020 final penalty miss and the subsequent abuse he received online “break” him and insists that social media companies are “are not doing enough”.
The Arsenal winger saw his strike from the spot saved by Gianluigi Donnarumma in the final act of the European Championship decider, to leave Gareth Southgate’s side heartbroken at Wembley after a sharply-contested 1-1- draw after full-time.
Racial absue directed towards both Saka and team-mates Marcus Rashford and Jadon Sancho – who also missed penalties – spread across social media shortly afterwards and in his first comments since the match, the 19-year-old has thanked his family and friends for standing beside him across the summer.
What has Bukayo Saka said?
“I have stayed away from social media for a few days to spend time with my family and reflect on the last few weeks,” Saka posted on Twitter.
“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.
— Bukayo Saka (@BukayoSaka87) July 15, 2021
“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 I was about to receive and that is a sad reality that your powerful platforms are not doing enough to stop those 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.”
Who else has spoken out?
Saka is not the first England player to speak out over the racist abuse endured in the wake of the Euro 2020 final, with captain Harry Kane and manager Gareth Southgate both quick to condemn the actions earlier this week.
Rashford also issued a statement after a mural featuring the Manchester United player was defaced in his hometown, with the forward later saying he was “overwhelmed” by the support of fans.
Incredible that Saka, Rashford & Sancho have had to pen messages like this in the past few days. Three young men this country should be proud of.
Can’t wait for Saka‘s first game at the Emirates this season. He’ll be left in no doubt how much love the Arsenal fans have for him. https://t.co/GBC7TE9HpT
— Charles Watts (@charles_watts) July 15, 2021
Elsewhere, Tyrone Mings blasted comments by Home Secretary Priti Patel following her earlier use of the term “gesture politics” to describe England’s decision to take the knee against racism.
The bigger picture
Saka will now return to Arsenal as the Gunners continue to get stuck into a busy pre-season schedule, one which Mikel Arteta’s side travel to Florida to face Inter later this month.
The winger is likely to be firmly in Southgate’s thoughts for when England return to action in September, with the Three Lions set to play fixtures against Hungary, Andorra and Poland at the start of the autumn.
All three games form part of the qualification pathway for the Qatar 2022 World Cup, where England will hope to match their last four finish secured at Russia 2018.