England To Host Côte d’Ivoire As Part Of World Cup Build-Up

Ivory Coast players pose for a team photo during the Group E Africa Cup of Nations (CAN) 2021 football match between Ivory Coast and Algeria at Stade de Japoma in Douala on January 20, 2022.
CHARLY TRIBALLEAU / AFP

 

Gareth Southgate’s England will face Ivory Coast in a Wembley friendly on March 29 as part of their build-up to the World Cup in Qatar.

The match against the two-time African champions, currently competing in the Africa Cup of Nations, will be the first meeting between the two nations at senior level.

It will be the first time that the Euro 2020 runners-up have faced non-European opposition since November 2018.

READ ALSO: Ivory Coast Send Reigning Champions Algeria Crashing Out Of AFCON

England are hosting Switzerland, also at Wembley, on March 26.

England play four Nations League fixtures in June, then complete Group A3 in September — the final international meet-up before the World Cup in Qatar, which starts on November 21.

AFP

Boris Johnson Calls End To Most COVID-19 Restrictions In England

Britain's Prime Minister Boris Johnson looks on as he welcomes Oman's Sultan Haitham bin Tariq for talks in 10 Downing Street in London on December 16, 2021. Frank Augstein / POOL / AFP
Britain’s Prime Minister Boris Johnson looks on as he welcomes Oman’s Sultan Haitham bin Tariq for talks in 10 Downing Street in London on December 16, 2021. Frank Augstein / POOL / AFP

 

UK Prime Minister Boris Johnson on Wednesday said most restrictions deployed to fight the latest wave of the Covid pandemic in England would be lifted from next week.

People will no longer have to wear masks in closed spaces, work from home and prove vaccination to enter public spaces such as nightclubs, Johnson told parliament.

“Because of the extraordinary booster campaign… we can return to Plan A in England and allow Plan B regulations to expire,” Johnson said.

Last month, England switched to “Plan B” in order to cope with what Johnson called a “tidal wave” of expected infections from the Omicron variant.

But he had to fight his own party to get the changes into law, as Conservative colleagues called the restrictions a step too far and a curb to public freedoms.

READ ALSO: Retired Angela Merkel Turns Down UN Job

The relaxing of restrictions have been seen as a concession to critics angry at revelations that he and his staff broke Covid lockdown rules by holding parties at Downing Street.

Johnson told MPs: “While there are some places where cases are likely to continue rising, including in primary schools, our scientists believe it is likely that the Omicron wave has now peaked nationally.”

Secondary school pupils will no longer be required to wear face masks from Thursday, Johnson said, calling for a review of self-isolation rules to be brought forward from March 24.

– Pandemic ‘not over’ –

After the Omicron variant emerged, Britain’s daily caseload for Covid topped a record 200,000 infections in early January, but has now dropped to less than half that.

“As Covid becomes endemic, we will need to replace legal requirements with advice and guidance, urging people with the virus to be careful and considerate of others,” Johnson said.

There was however still significant pressure on the state-run National Health Service “across our country”, Johnson said, encouraging people to have a booster vaccination.

“We know that around 90 percent of people in intensive care are not boosted,” Johnson said, insisting “the pandemic is not over”.

“Omicron is not a mild disease for everyone, especially if you’re not vaccinated.”

Latest government figures on Tuesday recorded 438 deaths within 28 days of a positive test for Covid, taking the overall toll to more than 152,500 since early 2020.

Facing restive Tory backbenchers, the prime minister had rebuffed calls by some scientists to impose a full lockdown in December, and allowed sporting events to continue with capacity crowds in England.

The devolved governments of Scotland and Wales imposed bans on large crowds at sports fixtures last month, but have now lifted that rule in time for the Six Nations rugby tournament starting next month.

Scotland on Tuesday said it was easing other coronavirus restrictions, allowing nightclubs to reopen and no longer requiring table service in bars.

Guidance asking people to stick to a three household limit on indoor gatherings will also be lifted, said Scottish First Minister Nicola Sturgeon.

The Welsh government has said a decline in Covid cases in intensive care means it will scale down its alert level from two to zero in coming weeks.

France To Ease COVID-19 Rules As England Says Curbs Are ‘Last Resort’

Travellers get off the ‘Train des Neiges’ (the snow train) at Tende Station, on December 31, 2021. – Since 12 December, 2021, Trenitalia offers 12 free trips per day between the cities of Limone in Italy and Tende, Alpes-Maritimes in France for both commuters and ski lovers. (Photo by Piero CRUCIATTI / AFP)

 

France announced an easing of Covid restrictions from Monday and Britain’s health minister said curbs were an “absolute last resort”, as governments face tough choices between controlling the virus and keeping economies open.

Coronavirus cases have surged globally in recent weeks, fuelled by the emergence of the highly transmissible Omicron variant, and the pandemic dampened New Year’s celebrations yet again.

Europe crossed 100 million known cases on Saturday, and governments there are keen to prevent healthcare systems from becoming overwhelmed by Covid-19 while also avoiding punishing restrictions.

Fully vaccinated people in France who test positive will only have to isolate for seven days, and can leave quarantine after five days if they show a negative test.

The change in rules should allow a “benefit-risk balance aimed at ensuring the virus is controlled while maintaining socio-economic life”, the French health ministry said.

READ ALSO: US Airport Chaos As Over 2,700 Flights Cancelled

According to an AFP tally of official figures, 17 out of 52 countries or territories in Europe beat their previous record of most cases in a single week.

The countries with the highest ratio of infections per 100,000 inhabitants in the world were all in Europe too, with Denmark showing the worst figure of 2,045.

However, some studies have sparked hope that Omicron does not cause Covid as severe as the Delta variant, with some governments factoring that into their decisions to ease curbs.

But the World Health Organization has warned of trying times ahead, saying Omicron could lead to “a tsunami of cases” because of its high transmissibility.

– ‘Absolute last resort’ –

The virus surges dampened New Year’s celebrations around the world, with events cancelled and tens of millions spending the holidays under some form of restrictions.

The British government, which is responsible for health policies in England only, has put in place some precautions but so far refused to curb socialising and large events despite record case numbers last week.

It has pointed to the less dramatic rise in hospitalisations compared with case numbers as justification.

“Curbs on our freedom must be an absolute last resort and the British people rightly expect us to do everything in our power to avert them,” Health Secretary Sajid Javid wrote in the Daily Mail newspaper.

“I’ve been determined that we must give ourselves the best chance of living alongside the virus,” he added, noting the “enormous health, social and economic costs of lockdowns”.

Northern Ireland, Scotland and Wales have all rolled out new rules since Christmas limiting gatherings.

– Parties, protests, prayers –

Despite virus concerns, populations in many parts of the world have grown increasingly weary of restrictions, sparking regular protests and defiance in some countries.

Dutch police on Saturday broke up a rave in breach of Covid rules that was attended by hundreds in a disused factory, local media reported.

Dozens of police officers entered the makeshift venue in the central town of Rijswijk with hundreds more mobilised to shepherd people away, NOS television said.

The illegal rave attracted people from far and wide with locals saying they had seen vehicles come in from France and Germany but also as far away as Spain and Italy.

And in Stuttgart, Germany, about 100 activists attempted to stage an unauthorised protest against Covid vaccines and restrictions.

The virus was also on the minds of some worshippers who hiked to the summit of Mount Mitake in Japan to pray at a shrine and watch the first sunrise of 2022.

“Naturally, I prayed for a new year to be one in which the coronavirus goes away,” said visitor Rie Mogi.

England To Open Field Hospitals As COVID-19 Cases Surge

British Prime Minister Boris Johnson (L) visits a Covid-19 vaccination centre at the Rainbow Pharmacy in the Open University Campus, Walton Hall, in Milton Keynes on December 29, 2021. (Photo by Geoff PUGH / POOL / AFP)

 

England is set to open temporary field hospitals to contain a possible overspill of inpatients due to a surge in coronavirus cases, the national health service said Thursday.

Fuelled by the highly contagious Omicron variant, daily cases have ballooned, standing at more than 183,000 on Wednesday.

NHS England said it would start building the structures in the grounds of eight hospitals in cities including London, Bristol and Leeds from this week, with each designed to house around 100 extra patients.

“Given the high level of COVID-19 infections and increasing hospital admissions, the NHS is now on a war footing,” National Medical Director Stephen Powis said.

The extra beds are designed for patients who are recovering from illnesses, including those who no longer have Covid, to free up space and staff to treat large numbers of virus cases.

READ ALSO: WHO Warns Of COVID-19 ‘Tsunami’ As Omicron Fuels Record Surges

The number of patients in hospital with the virus are also growing fast, exceeding 10,000 in England on Wednesday — the highest figure since March.

The UK has been one of Europe’s worst hit countries with a death toll of 148,089.

The government opened large “Nightingale” field hospitals in venues such as exhibition centres during the first wave of the virus. The facilities named after nursing pioneer Florence Nightingale were not widely used.

This time, the plan is to make available as many as 4,000 “super-surge beds”, in some cases using existing hospital facilities such as gyms.

Health Secretary Sajid Javid said: “We hope the Nightingale surge hubs at hospitals will not have to be used but it is absolutely right that we prepare for all scenarios and increase capacity”.

UK PM Announces Home-Working, Vaccine Passports In England

PM Johnson Says UK Anti-Racism Protests 'Hijacked By Extremists'
In this file photo taken on April 12, 2020 A handout image released by 10 Downing Street, shows Britain’s Prime Minister Boris Johnson as he delivers a television address after returning to 10 Downing Street. Pippa FOWLES / 10 Downing Street / AFP.

 

British Prime Minister Boris Johnson on Wednesday announced the tightening of virus restrictions in England as Omicron variant cases surge, including guidance to work from home and mandatory vaccine passports.

Johnson said at a briefing that as the rate of Omicron cases was doubling every two to three days, it was “the proportionate and the responsible thing to move to Plan B in England”.

As part of a raft of measures, the government is reintroducing advice to work at home in England from Monday, the prime minister said.

He added that the government in a week’s time will make it compulsory to show Covid vaccine passports in England for the first time, while the devolved administrations of Scotland and Wales have already brought in similar measures.

These will be required “for entry into nightclubs and venues where large crowds gather”, Johnson said.

The government is also making it a legal requirement to wear masks in “most public indoor venues, including theatres and cinemas”, he said.

Johnson said that it was becoming increasingly clear that the Omicron variant is spreading much quicker than the previously dominant Delta variant and “we can’t yet assume Omicron is less severe than previous variants”.

“We just have to respond today in the way that we are,” he said, while insisting the new measures do not amount to a lockdown and people can continue with Christmas parties and children’s events such as Nativity plays.

The prime minister stressed the importance of people taking up vaccines and the booster doses now being offered.

“The single biggest thing that every one of us can do is to get our jabs and crucially to get that booster as soon as our turn arrives,” he said.

Three Talking Points From The Premier League Weekend


Tottenham Hotspur’s South Korean striker Son Heung-Min (L), Tottenham Hotspur’s Brazilian midfielder Lucas Moura (C) and Tottenham Hotspur’s Danish midfielder Pierre-Emile Hojbjerg (R) celebrate after Son scores their third goal during the English Premier League football match between Tottenham Hotspur and Norwich City at Tottenham Hotspur Stadium in London, on December 5, 2021. Daniel LEAL / AFP

 

Ralf Rangnick won his first match as Manchester United interim manager this weekend after the top three in the Premier League swapped positions, with Manchester City now in the driving seat. 

Newcastle at last tasted victory to give new manager Eddie Howe hope they can escape relegation while Steven Gerrard won his third match in four since taking over at Aston Villa.

AFP Sport picks out three talking points from the action in the English top flight.


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Chelsea Complete Treble After Beating Arsenal To Lift Women’s FA Cup

Rangnick Starts Man Utd Reign With Win As Spurs Hammer Norwich


 

Rangnick’s Room for Improvement

Ralf Rangnick was given an early sight of the job that lies ahead of him to ensure the Red Devils do not miss out on the top four.

The high-energy style the 63-year-old has built his reputation on in German football was on show early on at Old Trafford, just days after his arrival to replace the sacked Ole Gunnar Solskjaer.

But United struggled to maintain that intensity or break Palace down until Fred’s fine strike from outside the box 13 minutes from time.

A first home clean sheet of the season gives Rangnick a platform on which to build, but that was more due to the visitors’ caution and a glaring miss from Jordan Ayew than great defending.

United are now sixth in the table after a second straight win, just three points behind fourth-placed West Ham.

However, Rangnick has an enticing run of fixtures coming up, with Norwich, Brentford, Brighton, Newcastle and Burnley to come before the end of the year.

Origi

Liverpool’s super-subDivock Origi marked his 100th substitute appearance for Liverpool on Saturday with the latest in his collection of crucial late goals.

Jurgen Klopp’s men had dominated Wolves at Molineux but could not find a way through until the Belgium forward struck in the 94th minute, sparking scenes of delirium from the Liverpool bench.

Other memorable moments for Origi have included an 87th-minute strike in the 2019 Champions League final win against Tottenham and a last-gasp winner in a 2018 derby against Everton.

“He is a top striker, a top boy,” said Klopp, who described the 26-year-old as a “legend”.

“He is already here at Liverpool for a long time — he came here very young and has scored some of the most important goals in the history of this club.”

Chelsea’s Stumble

It is too soon to talk of serious problems at Chelsea after they suffered just their second Premier League defeat of the season against high-flying West Ham.

But they have now dropped points in three of their past five league games at a time when Manchester City and Liverpool have hit the accelerator.

The Stamford Bridge side are built of tough stuff under Thomas Tuchel and the game at the London Stadium was just the third time in 53 matches under the German that they had conceded more than once.

Tuchel acknowledged West Ham’s winner from Arthur Masuaku was a freak goal but bemoaned earlier mistakes.

He will be concerned at the lack of goals from his main forwards, particularly the out-of-sorts Romelu Lukaku, who was used as a substitute at the London Stadium.

Defender Reece James and attacking midfielder Mason Mount are the club’s top scorers this season, with five goals each in all competitions.

Big summer signing Lukaku has struggled with form and fitness this season and has not scored since mid-September after a bright start at Stamford Bridge.

AFP

Chelsea Complete Treble After Beating Arsenal To Lift Women’s FA Cup

Chelsea’s players celebrate with the trophy on the pitch after the English Women’s 2021 FA Cup final football match between Arsenal and Chelsea at Wembley Stadium in London on December 5, 2021. Chelsea FC Women won the game 3-0. Ben STANSALL / AFP

 

Chelsea’s women completed a treble of domestic trophies from the 2020/21 season as Sam Kerr scored twice to beat Arsenal 3-0 in front of more than 40,000 fans at Wembley.

Fran Kirby gave the Blues a third-minute lead and Chelsea dominated throughout, squandering a number of chances before Kerr struck twice in the second half.

The victory completes the treble for Emma Hayes’ side, having won last season’s Women’s Super League (WSL) title and the League Cup, as well as reaching the Champions League final for the first time.

“To think we are treble winners, it is an amazing achievement,” said Hayes. “You can’t ask any more from the players and I am extremely proud of them, the staff, and the club.

“We have built this team over a long period of time and I think today we showed why we are champions.”

READ ALSO: Rangnick Starts Man Utd Reign With Win As Spurs Hammer Norwich

(L-R) Chelsea’s German midfielder Melanie Leupolz, Chelsea’s Canadian midfielder Jessie Fleming, Chelsea’s Danish striker Pernille Harder and Chelsea’s English defender Niamh Charles pose with the trophy on the pitch after the English Women’s 2021 FA Cup final football match between Arsenal and Chelsea at Wembley Stadium in London on December 5, 2021. Chelsea FC Women won the game 3-0. Ben STANSALL / AFP

 

Arsenal lead Chelsea by a point at the top of the WSL this season after beating them at the Emirates on the opening weekend of the season.

But the Gunners were always chasing the game from the moment Kerr played in Kirby to fire low past Manuela Zinsberger from the edge of the penalty area.

Kerr doubled Chelsea’s advantage with a ruthless finish just before the hour mark and rounded off the scoring in style with a dinked finish over the advancing Zinsberger.

“We kind of went in as underdogs so we had a point to prove and we are buzzing,” said Australian international Kerr.

“I’m paid to score goals but our defence was amazing and it was a team effort – I can’t wait to party!”

AFP

Solskjaer Says Struggling Man Utd Should Enjoy Pressure

Manchester United's Norwegian manager Ole Gunnar Solskjaer gestures on the touchline during the English FA Cup quarter-final football match between Leicester City and Manchester United at King Power Stadium in Leicester, central England on March 21, 2021. Leicester won the game 3-1. Oli SCARFF / POOL / AFP
File photo: Manchester United’s Norwegian manager Ole Gunnar Solskjaer gestures on the touchline during the English FA Cup quarter-final football match between Leicester City and Manchester United at King Power Stadium in Leicester, central England on March 21, 2021. Leicester won the game 3-1. Oli SCARFF / POOL / AFP

 

Ole Gunnar Solskjaer says the intense pressure he and his struggling stars are under can make Manchester United a better team as they seek to rescue their faltering season.

United travel to Watford on Saturday licking their wounds after four defeats in their past six Premier League matches, including chastening home losses to Liverpool and Manchester City.

They are sixth in the table, five points adrift of the top four and nine points behind leaders Chelsea.

“We know the poor run of form puts ourselves under pressure but that pressure should be a joy, it should be something that makes us a better team and makes every player perform at their best level,” Solskjaer said at his pre-match press conference on Friday.

READ ALSO: [Alleged Rape] Man City Defender Mendy Charged With Two More Counts

File photo: Manchester United’s Norwegian manager Ole Gunnar Solskjaer (R) consoles Manchester United’s French midfielder Paul Pogba (L) on the pitch after the English Premier League football match between Manchester United and Liverpool at Old Trafford in Manchester, north west England, on May 13, 2021. Liverpool won the game 4-2. Michael Regan / POOL / AF

 

The Norwegian was asked directly if he felt safe in his job as action resumes following the international break.

“The players, the staff, myself, and the club, we are all working towards one goal and that’s for this team to improve and get better results,” Solskjaer said.

“The fans are still supporting the team and the club. They’ve been through this period and backed this team through the rebuild.

“You know when you lose a game you’re always disappointed and under pressure. We’ve communicated well and openly and honestly.

“There’s one game now that matters but also there’s what goes on after that. We’re all refreshed, this week has been really good in training and we’re ready for tomorrow.”

Responding to reports that Jesse Lingard’s contract talks had broken down, with the England midfielder looking to leave United, Solskjaer said: “Jesse is training really hard, really well, and he’s ready and available for me. Definitely, he’s disappointed he hasn’t played more of course.

“With regards to his contract situation and the talks, I’ve not been in those very closely. For me, Jesse is still part of this squad, an important part, and he gives energy and quality to the group every day.”

AFP

Queen Elizabeth Calls For Joint Action On Climate Crisis

In this file photo taken on July 8, 2021 Queen Elizabeth II visits Manchester Cathedral in Manchester, northwest England.  Christopher Furlong / POOL / AFP

 

Queen Elizabeth II on Monday appealed to world leaders to work together in “common cause” against climate change to “solve the most insurmountable problems”.

The statement, delivered in a video message to the COP-26 conference in Glasgow came after a day of speeches from world leaders warning of the urgency of the crisis.

“If the world pollution situation is not critical at the moment, it is as certain as anything can be, that the situation will become increasingly intolerable within a very short time…,” said the Queen.

“If we fail to cope with this challenge, all the other problems will pale into insignificance.”

She added: “None of us underestimates the challenges ahead: but history has shown that when nations come together in common cause, there is always room for hope.”

Earlier, UN Secretary General Antonio Guterres had issued a similarly stark warning.

“We are digging our own graves,” he said, referring to the current exploitation of the planet’s resources.

But some observers have already denounced what they see as a lack of action to back up the statements from world leaders.

AFP

Most Of UK Revises COVID-19 Travel Lists Amid Rising Case Fears

Prime Minister Boris Johnson will on Monday unveil a plan to lift most if not all of England’s pandemic restrictions from July 19, as he urged the public to “learn to live with” the coronavirus. (Photo by DANIEL LEAL-OLIVAS / POOL / AFP)

 

 

England and Scotland revised their COVID-19 travel rules on Wednesday, placing greater restrictions on travellers arriving from Spain’s Balearic Islands over fears of rising case numbers.

The Department of Transport in London said after a “sharp rise in cases”, the decision had been taken to move the Balearic Islands as well as the British Virgin Islands to England’s “amber” list — the middle-ranking for Covid-19 incidence.

The Scottish government, which sets its own transport policy, announced it would be making the same changes.

Under the “amber” restrictions, which will come into force after 4:00 am (0300 GMT) on July 19, travellers will have to isolate themselves at home when they arrive in the UK.

However, changes that come into effect on the same day mean those who have had both Covid vaccines as part of the UK’s innoculation campaign will not have to isolate after they return.

The Spanish islands, which include Ibiza, Menorca, Majorca and Formentera, were only moved to the UK’s green list at the end of June.

“Unfortunately when we put them on the green watch list from then we’ve seen the rates double, and also the rates of positivity of these tests double, meaning that we’re going to have to move quickly.” Transport Secretary Grant Shapps said.

 

A passenger wears a face-mask as a Covid-19 protective measure as she travels on a bus in central London on July 14, 2021. – London Mayor Sadiq Khan on Wednesday called for use of face coverings to remain compulsory on public transport in the British capital after government plans to relax Covid curbs begin on July 19. (Photo by JUSTIN TALLIS / AFP)

 

Revisions in restrictions were also announced for Bulgaria, Hong Kong, Taiwan and Croatia which have been moved to the “green” watch list, the lowest ranking for Covid cases, which means travellers do not have to isolate in the UK but still have to test for Covid before and after arrival.

Cuba, Indonesia, Myanmar and Sierra Leone will be added to the “red” list from July 19, with the strictest travel measures imposed, meaning those who have departed from or transited through the countries will be refused entry.

British and Irish citizens or UK residents must quarantine in a government-approved hotel for 10 days when returning from red-list countries.

Father Of England’s Maguire Broke Ribs In Wembley Chaos

Maguire’s family including his father, Alan (right). Photo: Daisssmaguire

 

Alan Maguire, 56, and the Manchester United player’s agent Kenneth Shepherd were trampled by unruly ticketless fans before the match between England and Italy at London’s Wembley Stadium on Sunday.

“It was not a nice experience — it shook him up. It was scary. I don’t want anyone to experience that at a football match,” Maguire told British tabloid The Sun.

Alan Maguire did not ask for medical treatment despite his injuries as England supporters overwhelmed security staff to enter the stadium and occupy the seats of paying spectators.

“My dad’s a big fan — he got on with it. He was struggling with his breathing because of his ribs, but he’s not one to make a big fuss,” the 28-year-old footballer was quoted as saying.

“He was fortunate as every game he has been to he has had my nephew or one of my kids on his shoulders.”

European football’s governing body UEFA on Tuesday charged England’s Football Association over the unsavoury scenes at the final and will appoint an “ethics and disciplinary inspector” to investigate the pre-match disorder.

The infractions included fans booing Italy’s national anthem, the lighting of a firework, a mid-game pitch invasion and supporters throwing objects.

London’s police force said it made 86 arrests and that 19 of its officers were injured in connection with managing the Euro 2020 final.

It also said it would look at reports of racist abuse of the three black England players who missed penalties, which has sparked an outpouring of support for them from fans.

A petition to permanently ban racists from football matches, created in response to the abuse, has garnered more than one million signatures in just two days.

Maguire condemned the behaviour of unruly fans at the match, calling it “totally wrong” and said his father would still go to games but would now be more aware.

“Things could have been a lot worse but we have to make sure it does not happen again,” he added.

Italy won the match 3-2 on penalties following a 1-1 draw after extra time to claim their first European Championships title since 1968.

AFP

‘Never Apologise For Who I Am’ Says Rashford After Racist Abuse

England’s forward Marcus Rashford reacts after missing a penalty during the UEFA EURO 2020 final football match between Italy and England at the Wembley Stadium in London on July 11, 2021. (Photo by Andy Rain / POOL / AFP)

 

England’s Marcus Rashford said he will “never apologise for who I am” in an emotional statement after receiving racist abuse following the side’s Euro 2020 final defeat.

The Manchester United forward was one of three players, along with Jadon Sancho and Bukayo Saka, who were attacked by racist trolls after missing penalties in Sunday’s 3-2 shoot-out defeat by Italy.

Rashford’s England team-mate Tyrone Mings criticised British Home Secretary Priti Patel, saying she had “stoked the fire” by defending those who booed players taking the knee.

Rashford has become a hero to many outside football by lobbying the British government to provide free school meals for under-privileged children during the coronavirus pandemic.

“I’m Marcus Rashford, 23-year-old black man from Withington and Wythenshawe, South Manchester. If I have nothing else I have that,” Rashford wrote in a statement on Twitter.

Rashford, who came on late in the second period of extra time, apologised for his penalty miss and said “something didn’t feel quite right” when he came to take the kick.

 

England’s forward Marcus Rashford carries a note during the UEFA EURO 2020 final football match between Italy and England at the Wembley Stadium in London on July 11, 2021. (Photo by Paul ELLIS / POOL / AFP)

 

“It’s been playing in my head over and over since I struck the ball and there’s probably not a word to quite describe how it feels. Final. 55 years. 1 penalty. History. All I can say is sorry. I wish it had gone differently,” he wrote.

“I can take critique of my performance all day long, my penalty was not good enough, it should have gone in but I will never apologise for who I am and where I came from,” Rashford added.

– ‘Stoke the fire’ –
Images on social media showed a mural honouring Rashford in his hometown of Withington had been defaced before locals covered the hateful language with messages of support.

“Seeing the response in Withington had me on the verge of tears,” Rashford said.

He added that he was proud to have worn the England jersey during his side’s first major final appearance in 55 years, and grateful for the “brotherhood” that was created in the England camp.

Mings criticism is not the first time he has disagreed with Patel.

The Aston Villa star criticised her — after the opening Euro 2020 win over Croatia — for her remarks that taking the knee was “gesture politics”.

She also refused to condemn the England fans who booed the team for doing it.

Premier League teams have taken the knee since last year following the murder of George Floyd at the hands of a white police officer in the United States.

Patel had said on Monday the racial abuse of the three players was “disgusting” but it did not wash with Mings.

“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,” tweeted Mings.

Mings remarks received support from Patel’s fellow Conservative lawmaker and former defence minister Johnny Mercer.

“The painful truth is that this guy (Mings) is completely right,” Mercer tweeted.

“Very uncomfortable with the position we Conservatives are needlessly forcing ourselves into.

“Do I fight it or stay silent? Modern Conservatism was always so much more to me. We must not lose our way.”

England captain Harry Kane lashed out at those who had posted the racial slurs — following England manager Gareth Southgate who had said the abuse was “unforgivable”.

“Three lads who were brilliant all summer had the courage to step up and take a pen (penalty) when the stakes were high,” tweeted Kane.

“They deserve support and backing not the vile racist abuse they’ve had since last night (Sunday).

“If you abuse anyone on social media you’re not an England fan and we don’t want you.”

The racist attacks were strongly condemned by the English Football Association whose president, Prince William, said he was “sickened” by the abuse.