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10th Jun 2024

Black Footballers Partnership criticises media coverage of England’s defeat against Iceland 

Harry Warner

The association says that Bukayo Saka was unfairly targeted by the press after England’s shock loss to Iceland

The Black Footballers Partnership (BFP) has criticised the English media after Bukayo Saka became the face of England’s surprising 1-0 defeat to Iceland in their final international friendly before Euro 2024.

The association has said that the use of images of the England and Arsenal winger was unfair after he came on in the 64th minute, only playing 25 minutes of football.

The BFP said that “it was unfair to single out Saka in the critical articles instead of other white England players who failed to impress and who were on the pitch for much longer.”

They added that the way Saka was highlighted echoed the treatment of black players in the past by sections of the media as first brought up by Raheem Sterling in 2018.

After the Euro 2020 final loss on penalties against Italy, Saka, Marcus Rashford and Jadon Sancho were all targeted by online racism.

Formed in 2021 the BFP are “united in the mission to grow and improve football’s opportunities for black players, fans, clubs and future generations by being fair and inclusive on and off the pitch.”

In a statement, the BFP said: “Here we are, six years after Raheem Sterling called the press out for fuelling racism, with no obvious lessons learnt among our globally respected and influential press.

“Following England’s underwhelming loss to Iceland, and before we have even started the tournament, a number of leading British papers exclusively used photos of Bukayo Saka – who played only 25 minutes of the game – to illustrate articles that sought to criticise the entire team.

“This is simply not on. The press should know they play a part in setting the atmosphere for how fans see the England team.

“Black Footballers Partnership calls on journalists, as well as fans, to be unifiers, not dividers, as Euro 2024 begins in less than a week’s time, and to review its hiring practices to increase diversity at senior levels.”

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