Video report by ITV News Reporter Jessica Savage
Prince William has condemned "despicable" racist abuse which "must stop now" after Manchester United’s Marcus Rashford became the latest player to be targeted.
In a string of tweets, the Duke of Cambridge, who is President of the Football Association (FA) said: "Racist abuse - whether on the pitch, in the stands, or on social media - is despicable and it must stop now.
"We all have a responsibility to create an environment where such abuse is not tolerated, and those who choose to spread hate and division are held accountable for their actions.
"That responsibility extends to the platforms where so much of this activity now takes place.
"I commend all those players, supporters, clubs and organisations who continue to call out and condemn this abuse in the strongest terms."
Following his side’s goalless draw with Arsenal at the Emirates Stadium on Saturday evening, Rashford chose not to share screenshots of the offensive messages he had been sent post-match as “it would be irresponsible to do so”. He tweeted: “Humanity and social media at its worst. 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. “I’m not sharing screenshots. 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.”
Chelsea defender Reece James, West Brom’s Romaine Sawyers and United duo Axel Tuanzebe and Anthony Martial have also been targeted this week.
On Sunday, the FA vowed to work with the government and social media platforms to eradicate racism from the game.
A statement released on the FA’s official Twitter account said: “We are united with all of football in our abhorrence of any racist abuse. This is not acceptable in any part of society. “We will continue to work with the rest of the game, the government and social media platforms to remove this – and all elements of – discrimination from our sport.”
England international James also received the support of national team. A post on the Three Lions’ official Twitter account said: “Every time one of our players – or anybody – faces abuse, it only increases our determination to stamp racism out of the game. “As the national team, it is our duty to drive change and to ensure that no individual has to endure what Reece has.” The FA spoke out after Chelsea threw their weight behind calls for social media companies to step up efforts to tackle trolls following James revealing he had been targeted on Friday evening.
A statement issued via the Blues’ official Twitter account said: “Everyone at Chelsea is disgusted with the racist abuse Reece James received on social media on Friday evening. “This club finds racism and all forms of discriminatory behaviour completely unacceptable. We totally condemn it. “In sport, as in wider society, we must create a social media environment where hateful and discriminatory actions are as unacceptable online as they would be on the street. “We add our voice to those urging social media platforms and regulatory authorities to take stronger, more effective and more urgent action against this despicable behaviour. “Something needs to change and it needs to change now.” James addressed the issue again in an Instagram post on Saturday.
He posted: “We all have a part to play in making this world a better & more equal place! Racism is completely unacceptable! Human is our only race! @instagram you must do more!! #notoracism”. Chelsea team-mates Thiago Silva and Cesar Azpilicueta were among those to tweet in support for James.
Speaking on Friday about the earlier incidents, Premier League chief executive Richard Masters had said: “Tackling online hate is a priority for football, and I believe social media companies need to do more.” Relating to the abuse of Sawyers, West Midlands Police said a 49-year-old man from Kingswinford, near Birmingham, was questioned in custody on Friday evening. The force’s football hate crime officer is also investigating reports of another racist comment towards the player.