The biggest sporting moment of the year

The biggest sporting moment of the year

England’s Euro 2020 final defeat sparked a reaction that was impossible for us to ignore.

When three BLACK players were responsible for the nation's penalty shootout loss to Italy at Wembley.

Absurd as that statement may be, it is sadly the conclusion many came to after Gigi Donnarumma saved Bukayo Saka’s spot kick on the 11th of July.

Scores had questioned Gareth Southgate’s forthright stance on his players taking of the knee.

Commentators had raised eyebrows on the efficacy of such a ‘performative’ gesture that even some of the players fellow Premier League professionals had stopped participating in.

Regrettably from that moment - when Saka’s strike was palmed away - all too familiar fault lines were revealed.

Neither Marcus Rashford, patron saint of free school meals, nor Raheem Sterling, arguably England’s player of the tournament, were spared.

But for me, the bigger story was the reaction to the reaction.

The togetherness in defeat.

Some 700 people gathered for an anti-racism demonstration just two days later.

The sight of Rashford’s defaced Withington mural completely enveloped by messages of love and support overwhelming those of abuse which lay beneath, was, frankly, emotional.

One message read: "I can take or leave football but I cannot take or leave people like you.”

Another said: "Dear Marcus, please know that you are so admired and people find you an inspiration."

That moment was far more valuable than any cup win as it ushered in a new day.

One where acceptance and inclusion is afforded regardless of success.