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Prince William condemns 'despicable' online racial abuse of footballers

The Duke of Cambridge has called for social media to take action in the fight against racism in football, in a week that saw a number of players suffer racial abuse online.


"Humanity and social media at its worst" were the words of Manchester United forward Marcus Rashford, after receiving targeted racial abuse on social media following their 0-0 draw against Arsenal on Saturday.


Rashford became the third United player in the last week to be subject of racism, alongside Axel Tuanzebe and Anthony Martial, as well as Chelsea's Reece James and West Brom's Romaine Sawyers.


Prince William, who is the president of the English FA, took to Twitter to express his concerns regarding the action that needs to be taken to put an end to the 'despicable' abuse.


His tweet read: "Racist abuse - whether on the pitch, in the stands, or on social media - is despicable and it must stop now.


"We all have a responsibility to create an environment where such abuse is not tolerated, and those who choose to spread hate and division are held accountable for their actions. That responsibility extends to the platforms where so much of this activity now takes place.


"I commend all those players, supporters, clubs and organisations who continue to call out and condemn this abuse in the strongest terms."


The Professional Footballers' Association released a statement whereby they accused social media platforms of a lack of willingness to take action on racism that is so often directed at footballers.


"We have been very clear that social media platforms are an extension of a professional footballer's workplace," the PFA said in the statement.


"Every effort must be taken to protect them - and all other users - from racist abuse while using social media. Offline consequences for online hate crimes must be pursued whenever possible.


"Enough time has been given to the networks to demonstrate a willingness to act. We have been at crisis point with this issue for two years. Racism causes trauma and online abuse presents a significant risk to people's mental health and well-being.


"During our initial meetings with the social networks, they advised us that players could block content that they find offensive. We do not believe the onus should be on an individual to manage the racism they receive.


"With the scale of racist abuse happening on their platforms, we are publicly asking why Twitter, Facebook and Instagram will not prevent users from being able to send explicitly racist terms and emojis? There is no context in which some words are acceptable.


"These steps won't banish all racist abuse, but it would be a start, demonstrating that the platforms value the diverse membership of Twitter, Facebook and Instagram's communities. While racist abuse is allowed to continue on each platform, we can only conclude that this is a choice by the companies running the social networks."


The damning statement from the PFA sparked Twitter to react themselves, who claimed that "racist behaviour has no place on our service and when we identify accounts that violate any of the Twitter Rules, we take enforcement action."


The aforementioned football players are only a few amongst a long list who have spoken out against the racial abuse they receive online through social media, up and down the English football pyramid. It is a long-standing, deep-rooted issue that can be evidenced of occurring for a number of seasons now and one that requires urgent and final action to be taken.




Author: Jake Wilkin

Image by Frédéric Perez

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