Opinion: It didn’t come home, but England scored on diversity


Ataul Fatir Tahir, UK

The exhilarating and nerve-racking finals of the UEFA Euro 2020 (held in 2021) between England and Italy will be one to remember. An almost decisive penalties – which could have gone either way – led England fans into a jolt of shock and the Italian side euphoric from a win they deserved.

For England, there’s still lots to celebrate.

As Gareth Southgate, the England manager, put it in a BBC interview prior to the final: the tournament brought all “communities and religions” together. It was England’s first international final in 55 years and the diversity on and off the pitch from the England camp has showed the greatness of the human spirit, when united.

As shown by the Museum of Migration – which explores how migration has shaped who we are, “as individuals and as a nation” – 7 out of the starting 11 players in the finals had grandparents born abroad. Scenes of varying communities getting together and supporting the Lions throughout the tournament brought a sense of togetherness and unity in England.

Even within our Ahmadi community on social media, England fans were saying “it’s coming home” while others were cheering “it’s going Rome”; a diversity that is welcome in good sporting spirit.

After the drag of Brexit, tabloids spinning stories vilifying immigrants and widespread racism, England’s journey in the 2020 Euros was a breath of much needed fresh air – it proved that in diversity, we flourish.

Nationalities, religions and communities coming together is what Islam celebrates as a means of social cohesion, progression and peace.

“We have made you into tribes and subtribes that you may know one another.” (The Holy Quran, Surah al-Hujurat, Ch.49: V.14)

Through uniting and celebrating our nationalities and colours, mankind paves the way to social peace.

England’s story in the Euros has rekindled the spark of unity for millions; however, the face of racism reared its ugly head on social media and the streets, following results of the final. Thankfully, voices continue to be raised against this vile racism and the realisation that humanity, as one, is what brings peace and success is engraving itself further.

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