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Media Criticized for Saka Image in England's Defeat

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louis Buyisiwe

Jun 10, 2024

Backlash Over Divisive Photo Choices Highlights Ongoing Racism Issues in Footbal

Several media outlets are facing backlash for using a photograph of Bukayo Saka to illustrate England's recent defeat to Iceland. Saka, who came on as a substitute in the 65th minute during the game at Wembley, was prominently featured on the back pages of newspapers like The Star and The Sun. The Telegraph used his image for a player ratings post, and BBC Sport's live text also displayed Saka's picture during the match.

Former England striker Ian Wright criticized the choice, suggesting the editors knew the implications of their decisions. Kick It Out chief executive Tony Burnett penned an open letter to editors, emphasizing the media's responsibility to avoid reinforcing negative stereotypes and discrimination. Burnett highlighted the ongoing issue of racism in football, despite progress with prosecutions and the Online Safety Bill.

Delroy Corinaldi, executive director of the Black Footballers Partnership, called the use of Saka's image "divisive," referencing similar past incidents involving players like Raheem Sterling. Sterling had previously accused the media of fueling racism by unfairly targeting young black footballers.

Saka, along with Marcus Rashford and Jadon Sancho, was subjected to severe online abuse following England's Euro 2020 final loss, where they missed penalties. Wright and football journalist Darren Lewis both called for greater media responsibility and support for players.

BBC Sport has sought responses from The Sun, The Star, The Telegraph, the Independent Press Standards Organisation (Ipso), and the News Media Association.

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