Photo: Twitter (@England)

England players have been celebrated for speaking out against racism and anti-LGBTQ+ attitudes in the sport.

While England faced defeat in a historic final, the team have risen above waves of criticism and shown solidarity with the queer community and Black Lives Matter movement.

Across social media, England has been commended for their great effort and standing tall as a symbol of unity across communities, cultures and all.

“Our players are role models,” said England manager Gareth Southgate said in an interview with The Player’s Tribune.  “It’s their duty to continue to interact with the public on matters such as equality, inclusivity and racial injustice, while using the power of their voices to help put debates on the table, raise awareness and educate.”

Southgate added: “It’s clear to me that we are heading for a much more tolerant and understanding society, and I know our lads will be a big part of that.”

The England manager’s sentiments of progress and inclusion was not just spoken word, but a genuine effort which was seen on and off the pitch.

During Pride Month, team captain Harry Kane joined Manuel Neuer in wearing a rainbow armband to mark Pride Month and to showcase LGBTQ+ acceptance across the sport.

Midfielder Jordan Henderson also took to Twitter to show support for the LGBTQ+ community and demonstrate that football is a game for any audience.

“Great to hear you enjoyed the game as you should. No one should be afraid to go and support their club or country because football is for everyone no matter what,” the sports star tweeted to a fan who shared their experiences.

BBC Radio 1 presenter Adele Robers also applauded England for their incredible performance in the final and behaviour throughout the tournament. 

“No matter what happens tonight these lads have done us proud. Standing up against racism, being brilliant #LGBT+ allies and giving 100% on the pitch,” Roberts shared on Twitter. “From Southgate to Pickford they’re united  This is what a team looks like. This is @England.

Throughout the tournament (and specifically following the final), England players faced immense backlash, including a disgraceful rise in racist comments.

England’s official Twitter account responded to the hate their players received online following the defeat to Italy.

“We’re disgusted that some of our squad – who have given everything for the shirt this summer – have been subjected to discriminatory abuse online after tonight’s game,” the account posted.

The Football Association (FA) issued a statement that read: “The FA strongly condemns all forms of discrimination and is appalled by the online racism that has been aimed at some of our England players on social media.

“We could not be clearer that anyone behind such disgusting behaviour is not welcome in following the team. We will do all we can to support the players affected while urging the toughest punishments possible for anyone responsible.”

The Metropolitan Police has opened an investigation on the abuse being shared online.

Related: The tiny football car gets Pride paint job for Euro 2020 final