England’s European championship loss exposes deeply rooted racism

Three young Black English athletes were tasked with taking the last three penalty kicks in the neck-and-neck final against Italy. When they failed, they were attacked with racist comments.
7:08 | 07/15/21

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Transcript for England’s European championship loss exposes deeply rooted racism
correspondent, Ian Penn. Reporter: The chants from soccer fans in England this past weekend. England reached the finals of the European championship against Italy, the first time in the final of a major tournament in 55 years. Back and -- Reporter: After 120 minutes, regulation and extra time, it came down to this, the fate of a dramatic penalty shoot-out. Three, young English stars. Taking the last of the penalty kicks. Marcus afford. Leaing bukayo Saka, with the final shot. It was the shot that delighted one nation and ended the dreams of another. It never goes for the fans. Loss of words. Loss of words. Reporter: A national defeat again. But rather than celebrating reaching the finals, some turned to vitriol and racism, targeting the three, young players for the color of their skin. Hateful images and racial slurs targeting their social media profile. With other slurs, some telling Saka to go back to Nigeria. He was born in Landon. They would be disgusted. Reporter: The abuse, swiftly triggering backlash. I heard people say it's okay to be black and successful, but not to be black and fail. Would you agree with in a? Absolutely. There's a smaller minority. But still a large group of people that, suddenly, all of your failures on the color of your skin. Reporter: Hours after the game, prince William, the president of the football association, called for accountability, writing in a tweet, I'm sickened by the racist abuse aimed at England players after last night's match. It's totally unacceptable that players have to endure this abhorrent behavior. England's manager gareth Southgate also contempting the abuse. For them to be abused is unforgivable. I know a lot of that is coming from abroad. The people that track those things have been able to explain that. But not all of it. It's not what we stand for. Reporter: Prime minister Boris Johnson chiming in. To abuse on some of the players, I say shame on you and I hope you crawl back under the rock from which you emerged. Reporter: Police in Britain, looking at the abuse, with one suspect being questioned. For many black Britons, the outburst confirmed what they already knew. It's been going on for a long time. When the chips are down and things aren't going so well, that's when the veil comes off and you see people for their true colors. Reporter: Josh Denzel is a commentator for British soccer and has experienced racism firsthand. He is not surprised at the abuse. I broke in at the end of the hooligan era of football in England. And that period, racist chanting was rife in the game. All of the initiatives did, was suppress overt racism. And it stopped people from not espouing it in public. But the fundamental thoughts and opinions haven't changed. Reporter: Marcus rashford was defaced. This response is normal, isn't it? Reporter: But the graffiti was papered over with messages of support for the soccer star, grateful for the love, denouncing the hate. English soccer players have embraced the black lives movement. Taking Colin Kaepernick's act of defiance. But the British home secretary telling G.B. News channel, fans have a right to be up set to take a knee. Some say her rhetoric and the response from prime minister Johnson and others has fueled racial tensions in England. I blame the prime minister. I blame the party of which he is the leader. And I blame the home secretary. If you have a prime minister that use pickaniny and watermelon when he's talking about Africans, what are you going to do? Reporter: He said his comments were satirical. When they take the knee for all those that live with racism, day in and day out. Reporter: And at a public gathering, fans taking the knee in support. Where does the onus of responsibility lie now? What would make it better? You need lifetime bans orders. Not just can't come to the game for two years. And can't travel. There's needs to be police social media companies rooting out and finding these people. It also needs to be an educational thing. Reporter: And future generations of fans and players must await the day when rashford, Sancho and Saka will be regarded not for the colors of their colors of the Jersey. What does football mean to and what does it mean for the country? It's more than just a sport. A lot of violence or -- a lot of stuff that's not positive. And football is a thing that brings people together, like one big family. We hope that the world will be

This transcript has been automatically generated and may not be 100% accurate.

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