Old Trafford

United: No player should have to face racist abuse

Sunday 31 January 2021 17:30

Manchester United has reemphasised the message that racial abuse is vile and unacceptable and that more needs to be done to identify the perpetrators, as footballers continue to be on the receiving end via social media.

Reds striker Marcus Rashford became the latest high-profile player to be abused, after his side's 0-0 draw with Arsenal on Saturday evening. In the preceding days, his team-mates Axel Tuanzebe and Anthony Martial, as well as West Bromwich Albion's Romaine Sawyers and Chelsea's Reece James, were also targeted.

Rashford responded in a dignified manner that typifies a man who was awarded an MBE and is widely respected for his tenacious campaigning against food poverty.

"Humanity and social media at its worst," he tweeted. "Yes, I’m a black man and I live every day proud that I am. No one, or no one comment, is going to make me feel any different. So sorry if you were looking for a strong reaction, you’re just simply not going to get it here.

Marcus was on the receiving end of some racist abuse after the Arsenal game.
“I’m not sharing screenshots [of the abuse],” he added. “It would be irresponsible to do so and as you can imagine there’s nothing original in them.

“I have beautiful children of all colours following me and they don’t need to read it. Beautiful colours that should only be celebrated.”
In an interview with Sky News on Sunday afternoon, United's director of communications Charlie Brooks said: “We're incredibly proud of Marcus on a number of levels for everything that he has done.

“When it comes to the abuse that the players are suffering at the moment, it's not just an issue for our club or for football in general, it's society's problem.

“Football becomes a lightning rod for it and these people won't win, the players won't let it affect them, but nobody should have to put up with the level of abuse that players across the board are getting at the moment."

Brooks continued: “You hear people saying 'maybe the players should come off social media.' The players shouldn't have to come off social media. Social media is a great tool for them to communicate with fans. They shouldn't have to come off it simply because a few individuals are perpetrating this kind of sick abuse.”

As for how those individuals might be identified, the club's communications director added: “I think that's something the Premier League is determined to look at, we're determined to look at as a club, and I know the police are determined to look at it. I think the problem comes when these people are allowed to hide behind anonymous accounts.

“The reality is if they are not able to be identified on social media, it's very hard to trace them. Really the onus has to be on the social media companies to do something about that. We need to see verifiable, identifiable accounts. Sometimes there are good reasons why some people want to remain anonymous on the front end of social media, but it shouldn't be the case that they can't be tracked or identified on the back end if they're going to carry on with this kind of abuse.”
Greater Manchester Police has issued the following statement about the matter:

“We are aware of a number of Manchester United football players suffering abuse on social media accounts between Wednesday 27 January and Saturday 30 January 2021.

“Nobody should be subject to such abuse and it is deeply upsetting not only to those who suffer it, but to all those who come across this awful language too. These hateful words have no place anywhere in our society whether online or otherwise.

“A number of these comments have been reported to us and we are liaising with those involved to provide support and we will be investigating these crimes thoroughly. Tackling hate crime remains a priority for GMP and we take these reports very seriously.

“We would always encourage anyone who has been a victim, or witness of hate crime to report it at the earliest opportunity via 101, LiveChat or online. Alternatively you can visit www.letsendhatecrime.com.”