England’s Premier League has urged social media organisations to do more to combat racism following online abuse directed at the Manchester United duo of Axel Tuanzebe and Anthony Martial and West Brom’s Romaine Sawyers this week.
West Brom contacted police after Sawyers was sent a racist message during Tuesday’s 5-0 loss to Manchester City, while the United pair came under attack following a shock defeat by Premier League basement club Sheffield United on Wednesday.
“I am appalled to see the racial abuse received by players this week,” Premier League chief executive Richard Masters said on Friday.
“Racist behaviour of any form is unacceptable and nobody should have to deal with it.
“Tackling online hate is a priority for football, and I believe social media companies need to do more.”
Masters said while the Premier League had been talking to social media companies, more action was needed to ensure the “swifter removal” of abusive messages.
“We are in regular dialogue with social media companies, challenging them to do more against discriminatory abuse on their platforms,” he said.
“We want to see swifter removal of offensive messages and improved identification and banning of offenders.”
The abuse aimed at Sawyers appeared to be in response to the error he made that led to City’s third goal, with the “appalled” Baggies insisting Friday they would be seeking the “toughest available legal punishment”, as well as issuing a lifetime ban from The Hawthorns, should those responsible for the offensive posts be identified.
Meanwhile, Albion manager Sam Allardyce questioned how those responsible could best be held accountable.
“Romaine – or any black person – should not have to put up with this,” he said.
“It does become a greater thing to put right but who does it lie with? Should a player take legal action? That is an avenue for the PFA (Professional Footballers’ Association) and all the players to get together about and choose the right way to go. How do we hold people accountable? Social media sites need to act in a more responsible way.”
His comments came after Manchester United condemned the “mindless idiots” who had racially abused Tuanzebe and Martial.
A 2-1 loss to the Blades, where Tuanzebe inadvertently turned in Oliver Burke’s winner for the Blades, appeared to be the catalyst for online abuse that saw racist terms and money emojis put on Instagram comments of the Manchester United pair’s most recent posts.
“I think the social media platforms need to be looked at,” said Manchester United manager Ole Gunnar Solskjaer.
“If you can create an anonymous account and you can abuse people, of course it’s not right.
“We’ll work together with everyone to stop this nonsense.”