Toronto FC forward Jozy Altidore, center, celebrates after scoring a goal against the Columbus Crew with teammates from left, forward Tsubasa Endoh, defender Omar Gonzalez and forward Patrick Mullins during the second half of an MLS soccer match, Wednesday, May 12, 2021, in Orlando, Fla. Altidore added his voice Monday to the chorus decrying the racist abuse of Black England players after the Euro 2020 final. THE CANADIAN PRESS/AP-John Raoux

Toronto FC star speaks out against racist abuse of England players after Euro final

Toronto FC star speaks out against racist abuse of England players after Euro final

Toronto FC star Jozy Altidore added his voice Monday to the chorus decrying the racist abuse of Black England players after the European Championship final.

British police are investigating abuse targeted at Marcus Rashford, Jadon Sancho and Bukayo Saka, who failed to score penalties in England’s shootout loss to Italy on Sunday.

“It’s very disappointing,” said Altidore, who is Black. “These boys … have done some great things for English football, world football.”

“But we’ve said it how many times now, for how long?” he added. “At some point, something has to change.”

Altidore applauded the English team for taking a knee before games at the Euros to signal their support for ending racial inequality, a gesture that led to boos from the club’s own fans.

“They’re right in the thick of it. But it’s on everybody else to support those guys, those players and help those fans — not only English fans but fans all over the world — to understand that these things aren’t allowed anymore,” he said.

Canadian international Mark-Anthony Kaye also spoke out.

“Congrats to Italy and I feel for England. But the racial and online abuse players nowadays face is disgusting. We are all human … You who participate in this are tainting the beautiful game!” the Los Angeles FC midfielder, who is also Black, said in a social media post.

In the past, Altidore has used social media to call out FIFA and UEFA on racism.

The 31-year-old has played club soccer in England, the Netherlands, Spain and Turkey as well as in North America. He has also travelled the world with the U.S. national team.

He has said in the past that he can’t put a number on the times he has been the target of racial abuse, saying it is “easily” in the hundreds and includes hearing monkey chants in the Netherlands and the N-word in Mexico.

After the NBA’s Milwaukee Bucks refused to play last August to protest the shooting of Jacob Blake, a Black man, in Kenosha, Wisc., Altidore elected not to take part in Toronto’s game at Montreal two days later.

At the time the club said it was for personal reasons. Altidore was shown watching from the stands at Saputo Stadium.

He later said he wanted to “stand in solidarity with players” who opted not to play in the wake of the shooting.

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This report by The Canadian Press was first published July 12, 2021.

Neil Davidson, The Canadian Press

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