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Manchester locals speak out against Rashford mural defacing

The Manchester community came together in defiance of racism yesterday.

Dozens came and put supportive messages on a mural wall.

The artwork in Withington, Manchester, was defaced following England’s defeat by Italy in the Euro 2020 final.

Defaced mural

Rashford said he was “on the verge of tears” when he saw the mural had been covered in supportive messages.

The street artist Akse, who created the portrait, has now repaired the damage but it has yet to be decided what will happen to the messages of support.

The mural was defaced with several swear words shortly after Rashford missed a penalty, along with Jadon Sancho and Bukayo Saka, in the 3-2 shootout loss.

All three players have since been attacked with racist abuse.

Rashford said he was sorry for missing his penalty, adding that he “wished it had gone differently” but then paid tribute to those who added messages on the mural.

“The communities that always wrapped their arms around me continue to hold me up,”

England had the perfect start in the Euro finals yesterday against Italy, with the fast goal in Euro final history by Luke Shaw, but the side lost control of the game and possession in the second half .

With neither side able to find a winner in normal time, extra time followed.

Still parity remained, with Southgate bringing on Rashford and Grealish at the last moments, and Grealish was the victim of a nasty tackle that left him unable to take a penalty.

England sadly lost the shootout and Italy, meanwhile, were able to celebrate a 34th straight win under  Roberto Mancini and a second European Championship triumph – marking their sixth major trophy.

England remain on one, still clinging to that 1966 World Cup triumph at Wembley.

Gareth Southgate has responded to suggestions that England are too “nice” to win a trophy.

“I don’t see that,” the coach said. “We’ve got to a final for the first time for 55 years. You’re not a nice team to get to a final. 

“We’ve overcome a lot of hurdles that we’ve not been able to in the past. We know that a lot of players that are still very inexperienced in terms of international football have delivered at an incredibly high level.

“The more experienced players in the big matches were really able to use that experience to defeat Germany, who had an incredibly experienced team, to come through a semi-final that was a hugely challenging experience for them.

“And we’ve taken Italy, who are a top, top team, and unbeaten in 30 [games], right to the wire. 

“If we’d been torn apart, or looked a mess, then I might be thinking differently about [being too nice].”

Meanwhile a huge clean-up is underway to remove rubbish left by crowds who had gathered to watch the Euro 2020 final, which saw England lose out to Italy on penalties.

“It was a complete mess,” Ola Olawale says about Leicester Square, as he tries to reach beer bottles somehow on top of the restaurant where he works with a long stick.

Italy won Euro 2020 following a dramatic penalty shoot-out success over England at Wembley Roberto Mancini’s Azzurri triumphed 3-2 on spot-kicks after a 1-1 draw to be crowned champions of Europe for the first time since 1968.

Storming turnstiles

Groups of England fans without tickets forced their way through the Wembley turnstiles before the Euro 2020 final against Italy, multiple witnesses have told the Guardian.

Supporters breached security barriers outside the stadium and squeezed behind ticket-holders or burst through the electronic gates that allow entry to the concourses and seats.

Witnesses said the numbers may have been in the hundreds.

There were unconfirmed reports that hundreds of fans charged a disabled entrance door when it opened.

‘He is nine years old’ – more Danes tell of being abused by England fans Read more The Guardian has been told that one supporter was left stuck outside after he scanned his ticket and two fans without one pushed through the turnstile ahead of him.

Other ticketless fans were seen trying to persuade supporters with tickets to allow them to squeeze in.

Stewards were seen failing to prevent fans from forcing their way through a turnstile.

About two hours before kick-off hundreds of fans were filmed breaching a gate and running up steps towards the stadium. Stewards and police sought to hold back supporters as they pushed through barriers.

Stadium statement

A Wembley Stadium spokesperson said “safety measures were quickly activated in the relevant areas there were no security breaches of people without tickets getting inside the stadium” but a later statement was issued which acknowledged this was not the case.

The statement said: “There was a breach of security and a small group of people got into the stadium. We are now working closely with stadium stewards and security to remove these people.

Anyone inside the stadium without a ticket will be instantly ejected.”

One fan said, though, that two stewards at the entrance to their block did not check their ticket and that others strolled past unchallenged.

Uefa had also earlier said there had been no access to the stadium. A witness reported that fans were fighting over seats and that some supporters without tickets had ended up in the area that houses the players’ families. Fans reported that some people were watching from the concourse.

A Metropolitan police spokesperson said: “There was a breach of security at Wembley Stadium, which resulted in a small number of people getting into the stadium without a ticket. Officers worked closely with security officials to prevent any further breaches. We will also support action by Wembley Stadium officials to identify those without tickets and eject them.”

Reports from around Wembley suggest  the stadium was locked down after fans without match tickets breached the security barrier and “stormed on to [the] concourse”.

Police officers on horseback were deployed to control the crowds as security staff tried to reassemble fences around the stadium.

Fans have also descended on central London in huge numbers before the final, the first at a major tournament for the England men’s team since the 1966 World Cup.

In Leicester Square, bottles and other objects were thrown.

Racism

England manager Gareth Southgate said the racist abuse aimed at Marcus Rashford, Jadon Sancho and Bukayo Saka after the Euro 2020 final defeat by Italy was “unforgivable”.

Prime Minister Boris Johnson and the Football Association also condemned it.

All three players missed penalties in the 3-2 shootout loss and were targeted on social media after the game.

 Met police are investigating the abuse and said “it will not be tolerated”.

“It’s just not what we stand for,” said Southgate.

“We have been a beacon of light in bringing people together, in people being able to relate to the national team, and the national team stands for everybody and so that togetherness has to continue.

“We have shown the power our country has when it does come together and has that energy and positivity together.

“It’s my decision who takes the penalties, it’s not a case of players not volunteering or more experienced players backing out.”

England and Borussia Dortmund midfielder Jude Bellingham tweeted a picture of the three players wearing crowns and wrote: “We win together and we lose together.

So proud to have team-mates with such top character. As for the racism, hurtful but not surprising. Will never get bored of saying that more needs to be done. Educate and control the platforms.”

European football’s governing body Uefa condemned the “disgusting racist abuse”, adding: “We stand by the players and the FA’s call for the strongest possible punishments.”

On Monday, League Two side Leyton Orient said they had banned a fan for three years in connection with the abuse.

“The supporter in question’s actions on Twitter were alerted to the club late last night, and action has been taken swiftly to issue a banning order,” the club said.

England had reached their first final in a major tournament since winning the World Cup in 1966 and, despite taking the lead against Italy, drew 1-1 after extra time before a penalty shootout.

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