“My disappointment at last night’s football match was eclipsed by my disgust at the online racial abuse inflicted upon our black players after the game, which has dominated my thoughts in the aftermath. The sad thing is that it’s so predictable, and is not merely a symptom of football, but of wider society. I was encouraged by the way the players conducted themselves on and off the pitch during the tournament, which says a lot about the power of a thoughtful, empathetic leader (in stark opposition to some of the other high-profile leadership examples in our country).
It didn’t quite work out for Southgate at my club, Middlesbrough, but I’ve always had a lot of respect for him, generally. As a fan, I’ve watched virtually every England game on TV since about 1988 – many dull friendlies include – so it was a great feeling to see us reach a final. It was weird watching us pass the ball calmly to close out the Denmark game when I’m used seeing us with our backs against the wall. It bodes well for the future, as does the team’s inclusive, socially-minded worldview.”
Will Murray, FUR
“It hurts a lot. Of course It’s devastating to go so far and yet fall at the final hurdle with the whole country’s eyes on you. I’ve never backed an England team with as much genuine belief and pride before. This team is young and full of serious potential and you can’t help but feel that it’s only just starting for England. The beautiful thing about football is that it keeps going – there’s always a next time – and it will mean even more to the players and everyone supporting when we go again. The togetherness of the country in such trying times has been incredible and the way the players act and hold themselves really mirrors what it’s all about. You always have to look forward to the next thing in life regardless – so onto the next one!”
“What a tournament. After the year-and-a-half we’ve all had, it’s been a privilege to witness some of the greatest international matches of our lifetimes: Wales vs Turkey, France vs Switzerland, Spain vs Italy and England vs Denmark to name a few. In what has been a controversial tournament, with groups of England fans booing some far superior national anthems, the England squad and Gareth Southgate made us all proud by standing up for the BLM movement and the LQBTQ+ community. England really showed up for this final and every single player, staff member and fan should feel proud of getting this far.
“It’s important to remember the home nations in this tournament, from joyful Scottish fans sliding around in the rain in central London, only to proceed by responsibly disposing of their empty cans and bottles, to the naughty Welsh fans who managed to haul ass to Baku and Amsterdam despite the travel restrictions. We’ve also been blessed by Christian Eriksen’s recovery [the Danish player suffered a cardiac arrest on the pitch in his country’s match against Finland] from what was one of the most traumatic things I’ve ever seen on television. The way his teammates handled that situation was highly admirable. After all this and more, I’m sad to be saying goodbye to what has been the best Euros I’ve ever seen.”
“It’s a shame that we lost last night but I’m feeling immensely proud of the whole team for giving all us young ones our first ever final. The players did an amazing job and represented the nation brilliantly, both on and off the pitch. What can you do? It is what it is. We will go again next year at the World Cup. Sometimes you win, sometimes you lose…“
Sean Murphy-O’Neill, Courting
“As someone who’s never been a particularly big fan of football in the past, I’ve really enjoyed watching the Euros in the last couple of weeks and to some extent it’s one of the first times I’ve been proud to be English in a long time. That being said, supporting the team feels conflicting as some of the fans represent the exact opposite of what this team has stood for. The stances of the team have made me feel more welcome in enjoying it without the whole thing feeling gate-kept. it’s a shame that the actions of some fans are what makes people hate the idea of England and makes them want us to lose so badly.”
“So, another tournament over and another devastatingly annoying loss on penalties for little ol’ England. To be honest, we shouldn’t be surprised by now. But that doesn’t make it any easier to swallow. The Italian team are fantastic and – in my opinion – fully deserving of the trophy. On a side note: why do we have to end these tournaments by hurting people and smashing things up? Again, I guess we shouldn’t be surprised by now. It just leaves everything on an even more sickening note and it’s happening like clockwork. Apart from that, I feel it’s been a thoroughly great experience, and certainly exceeded any expectations I may have initially had. Every player should be proud of themselves. But now it’s back to club football (I support Everton) and it’s time to get behind Rafa Benitez’s tricky blues – a sentence I never thought I’d ever be writing. But that’s football. And I love it.”