Bukayo Saka receives standing ovation from Brentford and Arsenal fans after Euro 2020 abuse

Bukayo Saka received a standing ovation from Brentford and Arsenal fans after coming on as a subsitute in the Premier League opener on Friday night.

The England star, 19, suffered a torrent of racist abuse online after missing the decisive penalty in the Euro 2020 final shootout against Italy last month.

But there has been none of that on his return to football, with Brentford fans following the example of their Tottenham counterparts in a pre-season friendly last week by showing their support to the youngster despite his employment at a rival London club.

“It was wonderful at Tottenham and it’s wonderful again tonightt,” said Sky Sports commentator Martin Tyler. “Bukayo Saka is a charming young footballer and he must be touched by the reception to him tonight.”

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Before Tottenham’s pre-season game against Arsenal at the Tottenham Hotspur Stadium on Sunday, LGBT+ supporters’ group Proud Lilywhites unfurled a banner in support of Saka and other footballers subjected to prejudice and discrimination.

The banner read: “North London stands with Bukayo Saka and all players against racism and discrimination. COYS [Come on you Spurs]!”

Saka was then applauded onto the pitch by home supporters after being introduced as a substitute for Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang during the second half.

In a statement posted four days after England’s defeat, Saka called on social media companies to do more to combat racism and online hate on their platforms.

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“To the social media platforms Instagram, Twitter, Facebook I don’t want any child or adult to have to receive the hateful and hurtful messages that me, Marcus and Jadon have received this week,” he said. I knew instantly the kind of hate that I was about to receive and that is a sad reality that your powerful platforms are not doing enough to stop these messages.

“There is no place for racism or hate of any kind in football or in any area of society and to the majority of people coming together to call out the people sending these messages, by taking action and reporting these comments to the police and by driving out the hate by being kind to one another, we will win.”

Police arrested 11 people in connection with racially abusing Saka and England team-mates Jadon Sancho and Marcus Rashford last week.

In the first full-capacity Premier League game since March last year, it was fitting that the team to host the opening match were Brentford, who were last in the top flight 74 years ago.

Brentford’s last match in the First Division, as it was known in 1947, was against Arsenal, Friday night’s opponents.

Sergi Canos scored the first goal of the Premier League season after wrong-footing Calum Chambers and firing past Bernd Leno before Christian Norgaard capitalised on some shoddy Arsenal defending to double the home side’s lead.

Brentford were welcoming a full-capacity crowd to their shiny new stadium adjacent to the M4 motorway for the first time.


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