Euro 2020 has the potential to be that cultural phenomenon. It isn’t just that England could play six of a possible seven games at Wembley in the multi-city format, but that fixtures become symbolic of a potential end of the pandemic. Of course, new variants may put an end to the optimism, but just imagine if, should COVID-19 restrictions be lifted on June 21 as currently expected, the semi-finals and final feature full houses at Wembley.
There is, however, another disease of which to be wary. Emboldened by a society which has normalized the marginalization of minorities after years of institutional racism and Brexit-supported government policy, some England fans have used their return to stadiums to boo their own players for taking the knee in support of the Black Lives Matter movement.
Thankfully, the Three Lions have both a forward in Marcus Rashford whose moral compass eclipses that of the country’s prime minister, and a manager unafraid to stand up both for his players and the fight against racism.
“We feel more determined than ever to take the knee,” said Gareth Southgate before the tournament. “Those people should put themselves in the shoes of the young players. How would they feel if their kids were in that situation? We accept there might be an adverse reaction, and we’re just going to ignore that and move forward.”