Mark Keohane, writing for IOL Sport
The planet’’s biggest Tech companies continue to insist they are doing all they can to fight online racism and homophobia.
But if you ask the Premier League’s footballers, they refuse to believe that more can’t be done.
More has to be done by Tech giants like Facebook, Twitter and Instagram to produce the technology that identifies, names, shames and will ultimately allow for criminal conviction of these ugly people.
Governments all over the world are being challenged to legislate and be absolute in their condemnation against racism and all forms of prejudice.
Soccer is the biggest sporting code in the world and Britain’s Premier League’s has the vastest global reach, which is why the social media racial abuse of footballers in the Premier League is indicative of the magnitude of racism from all over the world.
You would think that in 2021 there would have been an evolution in human behaviour, but each year the situation just gets worse and all the data suggests an intense and dramatic increase among footballers who suffer racial abuse on social media.
The situation knows no peak because every week the instances become more, especially in the current climate that doesn’t allow for spectators at matches. Where the abuse was once pitch-side, social media has now become the ‘battleground of hate’ for racists.
And it is a battle that is very one-sided because the targets of the racial abuse have little defence because of the lack of consequence to those who so easily do the attacking.
There have been exceptions and next week a teenager will appear in an Irish court for racist online messages directed at former Arsenal and England footballer Ian Wright.
But the instances of these creatures suffering are way too minimal. I call them creatures because you’d like to think no human being could act that way, let alone think that way.
The abuse is vile, disgusting and disturbing.
Manchester United and England’s Marcus Rashford this week condemned those racists who continue to target him on social media. Rashford told his 4.2 million Twitter followers that it was ‘humanity and social media at its worst’.
Rashford’s club and many others expressed disgust at the unabating racist abuse black footballers suffer every day on social media. Legislation is all that can win this battle; legislation and the cleverest among those Tech giants, whose mission statement it should be to promote social media environments in which people are protected and not assaulted by the racists and their pitch-fork mentality.
There has to be consequences for these racists.
The players can’t fight this because the damage is already done the moment they are targeted with the vile abuse.
On October 14th, 2019 England’s black players were targeted with abhorrent racial abuse by a section of Bulgaria’s fans. These included sounds of monkey chants and Nazi salutes.
The response from EUFA, Europe’s governing body, was abysmal. A one-game stadium ban!
What players are experiencing online is even worse and while football clubs and organisations and governments all have to dovetail to form an unbreakable shield, the key role players are the Tech giants, who have created an online battleground with no rules and no governance.
Reports on racism in football show a 45 percent increase in the last year and more than 50 percent of black players in the Premier League have been the subject of online racist abuse.
There is so much hate in those messages, be it on Twitter, Instagram or Facebook.
Two year ago, leading players combined for a campaign called #Enough
This was aimed at the racists, when it should have been aimed at the Tech giants who continue to allow these racists free reign.