Mark Keohane, writing in his weekly Cape Times and IOL column
Go to Google and type in: ‘social media racial abuse towards soccer players’.
This is what you will find:
*Police investigating racist social media abuse of Manchester United star – 31st January 2021
*Facebook horrified by footballers’ racist abuse received on social media – 10th February 2021
*English soccer at breaking point over abuse on social media – 13th February 2021
*Racism in football: Footballers still facing racist abuse online – 17th February 2021
*Football racism: Premier League and EFL asked to help tackle social media racism – 5th March 2021
These are just five entries and they are random from the first three months of this year.
To describe it as ‘horrific’ doesn’t do justice to the degree of disgust one feels when reading human beings proudly displaying such racism and hatred based on a skin colour.
‘When is it going to end?’ wrote Liverpool’s Andy Robinson on Wednesday, the 7th April, a day after his team’s 3-1 defeat to Real Madrid. Robinson’s teammate, Trent Alexander-Arnold, who had experienced a nightmare match, was the latest victim of social media hatred and racism.
Thousands on social media endorsed emojis of bananas and monkeys, in relation to criticism of Alexander-Arnold’s performance.
This is the very same Alexander-Arnold, who a year ago was the darling of every English soccer supporter because of his on-field brilliance for England and Liverpool.
I use the words disgust and despicable, but for how long do people keep on expressing their outrage at the bigots, without there being a consequence to those who take such delight in globally expressing their prejudice?
The popular soccer platform, goal.com, on March 1, asked the question: ‘What happens to fans who racially abuse footballers on social media?’
According to the article, they should get arrested. The problem is that so many of the Twitter and Instagram handles protect the identity of an individual and allow for a free-for-all spewing of hatred and racism, knowing there is no consequence.
Social media giants like Twitter and Facebook have to be held accountable by governments. Their refusal to fully address the issue of the anonymous running the asylum is the very reason the asylum is out of control.
A 49 year-old male from Kingswinford in Dudley was arrested by West Midlands Police in January 2021 for sending a racist message to West Brom midfielder Romaine Sawyers after his team lost to Manchester City.
But nothing became of it.
Even worse, teenager Patrick O’Brien was found to have racially abused former Arsenal star Ian Wright on Instagram after losing a FIFA game on PlayStation.
However, Judge David Waters ruled that despite O’Brien being guilty there was ‘nothing to be gained by imposing a criminal conviction’. O’Brien was handed probation for wanting to kill Wright based on his skin colour!
Wright was appalled at the judgement, declaring he never wanted revenge on the teenager but wanted consequence for what had been done.
The response of Judge Waters is consistent with that of the social media companies. There are the obligatory statements denouncing racism and any form of prejudice, but there is very little action.
The odd account is suspended but the racists continue to rule in a social media world of anarchy.
To second Robinson exasperation, when is ENOUGH?
If not right in this moment, then when?
When will we get to the point that the consequence is jail time?
It has to be the only measure put in place and if governments and social media powerhouses can’t agree on that, then they should just come out and endorse the racist ‘free for all’ speech.
The focus simply can’t be on the abuser, who roams with a repulsive roar.
The response has to come from legislation that holds social media companies to count and ensures prejudice is punished and not excused because there is ‘nothing to be gained’ by imprisonment.
Lock them up and block their access to any social media platform.