England v Bulgaria - We need to do more to tackle racism, claims Marcus Rashford

Training day: England's Marcus Rashford during a training session at St George's Park, Burton, ahead of today's Euro 2020 qualifier match with Bulgaria at Wembley. (Picture: Tim Goode/PA)
Training day: England's Marcus Rashford during a training session at St George's Park, Burton, ahead of today's Euro 2020 qualifier match with Bulgaria at Wembley. (Picture: Tim Goode/PA)
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Marcus Rashford believes the fight against racism is “going backwards rather than forwards” and the England forward has called on social media platforms to get a grip on the issue.

Racist abuse has punctuated the start to the season at home and abroad, with Inter Milan’s Romelu Lukaku subjected to monkey chants at Cagliari last weekend and a variety of Premier League players attacked on social media.

The Duke of Cambridge highlighted the importance of tackling racism on Friday and Rashford, one of those targeted online, believes the recent rise in abuse underlines a worrying trend.

The Manchester United and England forward said: “It’s obviously disappointing. It seems to me like things have been going backwards rather than forwards.

“You know, it’s tough, but like you’ve been seeing all around the world, people have been standing together and I think in this moment that’s all we can do.

“We have to rely on the campaigns and stuff like that to deal with the situation because our voice only has so much power.”

Rashford took part in the Professional Footballers’ Association’s 24-hour boycott of social media platforms back in May – yet keeping schtum has sadly proven as ineffective as speaking out.

“To be honest, I’ve always said that the more we speak about it, it doesn’t have much of an impact,” the striker said in a press conference that nominally previewed England’s Euro 2020 qualifier against Bulgaria on Saturday.

“We’ve tried. There’s been examples everywhere where people have spoken out and I wouldn’t say they’ve been ignored, but nothing has really changed.

“So, just to see it spike in the last couple of months, it’s been unbelievable, so we want to just nip it in the bud while it’s happening.”

Rashford faced sickening abuse following his penalty miss during Manchester United’s shock 2-1 home loss to Crystal Palace a fortnight ago.

Thankfully the 21-year-old did not see those comments firsthand, but the lack of control – and protection – from platforms such as Twitter has not surprised him.

“Obviously, social media is a big problem because of that,” Rashford said when it was put to him that the medium feels like a free for all.

“For me, it is too easy to do what you like on the internet and any of us now can go on and create accounts and write what we want under anyone’s post and no one would ever know.

“It’s easier to sort of figure it out, you know, if you have to show identification to create an account, that means everybody can only have one account rather than there being like...

“I know, for me, there’s hundreds of thousands of people that use my name on social media, and they can write what they like – so I think obviously a lot of the racism has been coming from social media as well. So that one would be an easy one to get rid of. But, yeah, there’s a lot of things that need to change.”

Rashford publicly expressed that belief after United team-mate Paul Pogba was abused, posting “Enough now, this needs to stop @Twitter” just days before he too became a target.

“Obviously, I thought it was important for me to say my part and that is why I went onto my channels and wrote what I wanted to write about the situation,” he said.

“But, there have been other examples, obviously, Romelu and I think Jadon (Sancho) had a good speech about it the other day, so people are listening, and people are speaking.

“Hopefully we can put it right one step at a time.”

Kick It Out and the PFA held meetings with Twitter, while United are among those that will be meeting the social media platform to discuss racist abuse.

Danny Rose, among those targeted during March’s Euro 2020 qualifier in Montenegro, has spoken regularly about his dismay at racism in football, while fellow England player Sancho this week suggested it could end players’ love of the game.

“To be honest, I think that people will start to come off the platforms and if it is doing more bad than good, I don’t think there’s a reason to have the channels,” Rashford added.

“For me, the only reason I actually have the social media channels is to help the fans, because a lot of my fans are young people and you want to help them in the future and just little stuff, whether it’s your lifestyle or football-related, if you can give them bits of information that might help them in the future to become whatever it is they want to become.

“That’s what the strength was of social media.

“And the minute that the cons outweigh the pros, it leaves you with not much point with being on there.”