Bishop of Burnley condemns racist abuse towards England players

The Bishops of The Church of England in Lancashire have issued a joint statement condemning racist abuse directed towards England footballers in the wake of the Euro 2020 final defeat to Italy.

Rt Rev. Julian Henderson, Bishop of Blackburn; Rt Rev. Philip North, Bishop of Burnley and Rt Rev. Dr Jill Duff, Bishop of Lancaster were joined in making the statement by Rev. Sarah Gill, Vicar of St Stephen's with St James' in Blackburn, who is the Bishop’s Advisor on UKME issues.

The joint statement reads as follows: "We stand with the Archbishop of York; Officers of the General Synod and with the England team in condemning racism in all its forms.

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"Since 2016 Gareth Southgate has built a diverse and tightly knit team of young men who have worked tirelessly to achieve their own dreams and to fulfil the dreams of a nation; inspiring generations of fans with their footballing flair in the process.

People look at the messages of support on the newly repaired mural of England footballer Marcus Rashford by the artist known as AKSE_P19 after it was defaced by vandals. Photo: Getty

"Our Diocese covers most of Lancashire, one of the most beautiful and multi-cultural regions of the country.

"We join with people of good will in our County in challenging and calling out those who - through the spectre of racist abuse - choose to comment on the outcome of a football match based on colour of skin rather than character.

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"They condemn no-one but themselves.

"We also call on the authorities - including social media companies - to ensure those who are responsible are held fully accountable for their shocking actions."