Fri. Mar 5th, 2021

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Manchester United players ‘absolutely sick of hate-filled’ racial abuse online, says club chief

6 min read

Manchester United players are ‘absolutely sick’ of receiving racial abuse on social media, club chief Charlie Brooks has insisted after Axel Tuanzebe and Anthony Martial were targeted by online trolls.

Tuanzebe, 23, was subjected to vile racist comments on his Instagram account  following United’s shock defeat at home to Sheffield United on Wednesday night – including one which read ‘DAMNNN N*****’ as well as several abhorrent monkey emojis on an old photo that he had posted a fortnight ago of his United shirt and number. 

Some reports have claimed Tuanzebe has deleted his Twitter account as a result of the abuse he suffered following the game at Old Trafford, while Martial was also subjected to abuse after playing the whole game, leading United to call for social media sites to eradicate abuse posted by ‘anonymous mindless idiots’.

Manchester United chief Charlie Brooks has insisted the players are sick of online racial abuse

Manchester United chief Charlie Brooks has insisted the players are sick of online racial abuse

Tuanzebe was making his first league start of the season

Martial played the full 90 minutes of the defeat

Manchester United have condemned the disgusting racist abuse suffered by defender Axel Tuanzebe and striker Anthony Martial on social media

The club’s Director of Communications Brooks said the United players are ‘sick’ of the ‘hate-filled’ abuse online and urged social media platforms to create verifiable and identifiable accounts so the perpetrators can be caught.

Speaking to BBC Radio 5 Live, Brooks said: ‘The players are sick of it, absolutely sick of it, we as a club are sick of it. We as a club have a long-standing commitment to combating racism through our own All Red All Equal initiative. 

‘It’s something we’ve focused on both on a campaigning level and on a practical help level. We will of course help the players, all clubs do that, the Premier League do that, they have an online reporting system for players and their families but ultimately nobody should have to face this in their place of work and that’s what it is for the players.

Monkey emojis were posted on a picture the defender posted a couple of weeks ago

Monkey emojis were posted on a picture the defender posted a couple of weeks ago

Racist comments were also made on his Instagram account following the shock defeat

Racist comments were also made on his Instagram account following the shock defeat

Full transcript of Charlie Brooks’ interview 

I think that’s part of the problem, you have people propagating this vile abuse at footballers and of course it happens at every level of society and football becomes a lightning rod for it. The players have to deal with that. They are used to criticism in their roles, they’re used to being public figures but no one should have to put up with what they have to put with on social media. And we’ve had discussions with the social media platforms and they’re committed to helping. They have better monitoring, they will take down accounts when they see abuse but really the impetus has to be on them to create verifiable and identifiable accounts because while they are allowed to stay anonymous these people can continue to spout these vile views.

I understand a lot of people will say they need to stay anonymous on social media, they may themselves face persecution and I know there is a big debate on that but I think what’s important is they are not allowed to stay anonymous at the back-end. If an account is anonymous in public so to speak, that’s one thing but they are then using that to promote illegal hate-filled abusive terms on social media, they should be able to be tracked, identified and handed over to the authorities if necessary. That’s what social media platforms need to look at and I know that’s part of a wider debate with Government and the online arms’ bills that are coming up at the moment.

The players are sick of it, we as a club are sick of it. We as a club have a long-standing commitment to combating racism through our own All Red Are Equal initiative. It’s something we’ve focused on both on a campaigning level and on a practical help level. We will of course help the players, all clubs do that, the Premier League do that, they have an online reporting system for players and their families but ultimately nobody should have to face this in their place of work and that’s what it is for the players.

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‘The players are used to criticism in their roles, they’re used to being public figures but no one should have to put up with what they have to put with on social media. And we’ve had discussions with the social media platforms and they’re committed to helping. 

‘They have better monitoring they will take down accounts when they see abuse but really the impetus has to be on them to create verifiable and identifiable accounts because while they are allowed to stay anonymous these people can continue to spout these vile views.’

Brooks’ comments come after the club urged social media companies to ‘strengthen measures’ after being left ‘disgusted’ by the abuse Tuanzebe and Martial received.

In statement, United wrote: ‘Everyone at Manchester United is disgusted by the racial abuse received by players via social media after last night’s game. 

‘We utterly condemn it and it is encouraging to see other fans condemn this on social media also. 

‘Manchester United has zero tolerance of any form of racism or discrimination and a long-standing commitment to campaigning against it through our All Red All Equal initiative.

‘Identifying these anonymous mindless idiots remains problematic. We urge social media platforms and regulatory authorities to strengthen measures to prevent this kind of behaviour.’

A Facebook spokesperson meanwhile told Sportsmail: ‘There is no place for racism on Instagram and we are committed to removing it when we find it. 

‘We know there is more to do and we will continue to work closely with clubs, players and football authorities to investigate instances of discrimination and collectively tackle this issue.’

Former United defender Rio Ferdinand also condemned the comments made on Tuanzebe’s account, writing on Twitter: ‘This is a disgrace. These ignorant idiots need to be exposed so everyone can see them for what they are!’

The news comes just a few days after Micah Richards’ new documentary shone a light on the abhorrent online race hate footballers face.

Images of monkeys and bananas have been received on the Sportsmail columnist’s Twitter and Instagram feeds after he supported Black Lives Matter. 

Chelsea’s Tammy Abraham, Manchester City star Raheem Sterling, Crystal Palace’s Wilfried Zaha and Manchester United’s Paul Pogba have also received the same.

Jordan Henderson and Tyrone Mings have also held talks with Government ministers this week about tackling abuse in football.

Oliver Dowden and Sports Minister Nigel Huddleston led a Zoom call with the England stars and eight other football personalities, including Watford’s Troy Deeney and retired players turned broadcasters Anton Ferdinand and Karen Carney.

Rio Ferdinand led the comments condemning the racist abuse Tuanzebe has suffered

Rio Ferdinand led the comments condemning the racist abuse Tuanzebe has suffered

Oliver Burke's winner went in after taking a deflection of Tuanzebe's left thigh at Old Trafford

Oliver Burke’s winner went in after taking a deflection of Tuanzebe’s left thigh at Old Trafford

Ferdinand recently opened up in a documentary about his experiences with racism, and on the call, players were asked to share their experiences of abuse, while ministers spelled out of their plans to tackle online harms in a new bill which will come before Parliament this year.

Aston Villa defender Mings, who has previously spoken out about racist abuse on social media, added: ‘I was pleased that the Secretary of State wanted to engage with, and listen to, the thoughts of us as players and ex-players. Hopefully this adds context when he attempts to deliver change on behalf of us.’

Women’ players Renee Hector and Rinsola Babajide were also on the call, as were the FA’s Paul Elliott, the PFA’s Simone Pound and Shaka Hislop from Show Racism the Red Card.

Fulham have also launched an investigation into historic claims of racism and bullying within their academy following claims made by former youngster Max Noble.

In the game itself, United missed out on the chance to return to the top of the league, with Kean Bryan also netting for Chris Wilder’s men, though his goal was cancelled out by Harry Maguire’s equaliser. 

The news comes after Micah Richards' new documentary revealed the extent of online abuse

The news comes after Micah Richards’ new documentary revealed the extent of online abuse

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