Written by Konrad Ostrowski
The Professional Footballers’ Association and Kick It Out have called for increased government and police intervention in the regulation of social media after two Premier League players received racist abuse online.
West Midlands Police arrested a 12-year-old boy yesterday after racist images and threats were sent to Crystal Palace player Wilfried Zaha. Less than 24 hours later, Sheffield United’s David McGoldrick shared a screenshot of a racist message he received on Instagram with the caption “2020 and this is life”.
The PFA described the abuse as “sickening and abhorrent” and added: “Incidents, such as this, only strengthen the case for tighter regulation of social media companies.
“We call on the authorities to accelerate the process of appointing Ofcom as the regulator to oversee the Online Harms legislation.”
The boy arrested in connection with the messages sent to Zaha has since been released from police custody as the investigation continues. Both cases have been sent to the Premier League’s online system for reporting abuse, which was launched last month.
Kick It Out is a campaign funded by the Premier League, FA, EFL and PFA which aims to tackle all forms of discrimination in football and promote diversity within the game.
Its chair, Sanjay Bhandari, said: “Twitter, Facebook and Instagram are like the Wild West. To address this, we need social media companies to do more. We also need a concerted and sustained effort between government, law enforcement and the football authorities to prioritise the gathering of evidence and prosecution of online hate.
“We need to show the online haters that they will be tracked and that there are consequences for their actions. At the moment, they act with complete impunity.”
South Yorkshire Police has said it is working with Sheffield United to find the person behind the message sent to McGoldrick.