‘When you score you’re English, when you miss you’re Black’: Euro 2020 and the racial politics of a penalty shoot-out

Soundings - ISSN 1362-6620
Volume 2021 Number 79

‘When you score you’re English, when you miss you’re Black’: Euro 2020 and the racial politics of a penalty shoot-out
Les Back, Kelly Mills, pages 110-121

Abstract

Through an analysis of the fortunes of the England national football team in the Euro 2020 tournament, this article offers a critical assessment of the politics of race, nation and belonging in sport. While racist reactions to three Black players who missed penalties in the final revealed the contingent belonging of Black footballers within racially exclusive definitions of Englishness, the article argues that it also provided an opportunity for an alternative politics of national belonging to be expressed. This takes at least two significant forms: firstly, the political confidence with which Black players and their white allies are speaking out publicly against racism; secondly, the support and solidarity shown to Marcus Rashford, Bukayo Saka and Jadon Sancho resulting in an English solidarity that is expressed through an avowed rejection of racism. The article concludes that a shared solidarity in sport may be found, not in the arrogance of national pride or success, but rather, in how players, managers and fans conduct themselves in moments of failure.

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To cite this article
Les Back, Kelly Mills (2021) ‘When you score you’re English, when you miss you’re Black’: Euro 2020 and the racial politics of a penalty shoot-out, Soundings, 2021(79), 110-121

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