More than a million people sign petition calling for racists to be banned from football matches for life

More than a million people have signed a petition that calls for racists to be banned from football matches for life.

There have been thousands of messages of support for Black England players Marcus Rashford, Jadon Sancho and Bukayo Saka, after their social media pages were targeted by those posting racist abuse in the aftermath of the Euro 2020 final defeat to Italy.

On Tuesday evening, hundreds visited a mural dedicated to Rashford to show their backing for him.

The three women - known on social media as #TheThreeHijabis - who set up the petition called "Ban racists for life from all football matches in England" said the overwhelming response shows the nation thinks enough is enough. 

(ITV)
Anti-racism campaigners, from left, Shaista Aziz, Amna Abdullatif and Huda Jawad, who have started a petition calling for racists to be banned from football matches. (ITV)

The three women, Shaista Aziz, Amna Abdullatif and Huda Jawad, who live near Wembley Stadium, posted their petition on Change.Org on Monday.

The trio of campaigners, who call themselves The Three Hijabis due to their heritage and dress, have since seen their petition go viral.

“To go over one million… we feel validated in our resistance to racism and that what we have been able to articulate is the sentiment that is held nationwide,” Ms Jawad, a feminist and anti-racism activist, told the PA news agency.

People take the knee during a demonstration in support of Manchester United striker and England player Marcus Rashford in front of his mural on the wall of the Coffee House Cafe on Copson Street, Withington. The mural appeared vandalised on Monday after the England football team lost the UEFA Euro 2021 final. Picture date: Tuesday July 13, 2021.
People take the knee during a demonstration in support of England's Marcus Rashford in front of his mural on the wall of the Coffee House Cafe on Copson Street, Withington. (PA)

“This is not our petition – this is the nation speaking and saying this is not okay and enough is enough.

“It’s not about just educating people and having a softly-softly approach – this is the point where we are very clear about our red lines.”

Ms Abdullatif added: “The squad has shown us something else… a completely inspiring vision of what young people can achieve, what a diverse group of people can achieve and what met young men can be...

“We are at a moment… perhaps what we can all do is take our example from the team."

A message left on the mural of Manchester United striker and England player Marcus Rashford on the wall of the Coffee House Cafe on Copson Street, Withington, which was vandalised after the England football team lost the UEFA Euro 2021 final.
A message left on the mural of England's Marcus Rashford on the wall of the Coffee House Cafe on Copson Street, Withington, which was vandalised after the England football team lost the Euro 2020 final. (PA)

Online abuse is not covered under current Football Banning Orders legislation.

The petition described the England team as "anti-racist and inclusive". 

It adds: “We could not be more proud or inspired by our magnificent team and by their talent, bravery, leadership and love for all. Gareth Southgate’s England team plays for all of us. 

“There should be no room for racists and bigotry in football or society.

“We are calling for the Football Association and the government to work together now to ban all those who have carried out racist abuse, online or offline, from all football matches in England for life. 

“Our England team stood up for all of us - now we must stand up for them.”

The three women appeared on ITV’s Lorraine programme on Tuesday to discuss why they set up the petition.

Ms Aziz said: “This story is not just about racism in football. Racism is part of society, sadly, it’s part of the DNA of this country. 

“Football is a reflection of society. We need to dig deep and we need to do something about this.”

Soccer Football - Euro 2020 - Final - Italy v England - Wembley Stadium, London, Britain - July 11, 2021 England's Marcus Rashford and Jadon Sancho prepare to come on as substitutes Pool via REUTERS/Carl Recine
England footballers Jadon Sancho, left, and Marcus Rashford were subjected to racist abuse after defeat against Italy. (Reuters)

Ms Abdullatif told the programme: “All of us have to act and that’s what we’re asking with this petition. 

“There’s been lot of words, lots of condemnation - all great - but without action you do not see change, and these players deserve so much more than just empty words from all of us after everything they have done on the pitch and off the pitch.”

Ms Jawad said: “The beautiful game belongs to all of us, and it’s our game and the England squad has really shown us what it is like to be an inclusive team that belongs to everybody, that we’re all equal, that we all matter, that we can all make a difference.

Soccer Football - Euro 2020 - Final - Italy v England - Wembley Stadium, London, Britain - July 11, 2021 England's Bukayo Saka looks dejected after losing the penalty shootout Pool via REUTERS/Carl Recine
England's Bukayo Saka was targeted by racists after the Euro 2020 final. (Reuters)

“We’re so happy that everyone has been signing the petition. Please carry on signing it, because we want to drown out the racists and let them know that’s not okay and that we’ve got the backs of our players.”

Comedian Eddie Izzard, former England rugby player Phil Vickery, model Katie Price and TV barrister Robert Rinder are among those who have backed the petition.

A mural of Rashford in his home town of Withington, Manchester, was vandalised after the game, but the graffiti has since been covered up by supportive messages from members of the public.

On Monday, Rashford said sorry for his penalty miss but said he “will never apologise for who I am and where I came from”.

Rashford’s England team-mate, Tyrone Mings, hit out at home secretary Priti Patel, who had previously said players taking the knee before games was “gesture politics”.

She condemned the racist abuse of the three England players, but Mings tweeted a response: “You don’t get to stoke the fire at the beginning of the tournament by labelling our anti-racism message as ‘Gesture Politics’ and then pretend to be disgusted when the very thing we’re campaigning against, happens.”

The Metropolitan Police said it has launched an investigation into the online abuse.