Fans of the English national soccer club have promptly covered up a defaced mural in Manchester of Marcus Rashford, one of three English players to miss a penalty kick in the team’s 3-2 loss to Italy in the Euro 2020 final last weekend.
The mural depicting Rashford, a Manchester native, was graffitied with racist language in the wake of the national team’s loss. Rashford and two other players who missed their kicks, Jadon Sancho and Bukayo Saka, have each faced racial abuse online and in-person since the game.
Within hours of the match’s completion, unknown vandals scrawled a number of hateful phrases on the mural, many targeting Rashford’s race, according to reports. The graffiti was quickly covered up by city officials.
As soon as word of the vandalism got out, locals fled to the site of the mural, a coffee shop in the neighborhood of Withington, to share messages of encouragement for the 23-year-old player.
Sticky notes and hearts boasted phrases like “hero” and “role model,” while longer letters reflect on what Rashford means to the community.
Ironically, the mural has now almost been entirely covered by the additions.
Rashford took to social media yesterday, July 12, to address the incident and thank those that stepped forward in support.
“Seeing the response in Withington had me on the verge of tears,” he wrote. “The communities that always wrapped their arms around me continue to hold me up.”
“I’m Marcus Rashford, 23 year old, Black man from Withington and Wythenshawe, South Manchester. If I have nothing else I have that,” he concluded.
Akse, the street art veteran who initially made the mural last November, has since repaired the vandalized section of the painting. What will happen to the notes and letters long-term has yet to be decided, according to the BBC.
The artist did not respond to Artnet News’s request for comment.
In a statement on Twitter, U.K. Prime Minister Boris Johnson said that Rashford, Sancho, and Saka “deserve to be lauded as heroes.”
“Those responsible for this appalling abuse should be ashamed of themselves,” he added.