Rangers' Kemar Roofe receives racist message after social media boycott over online abuse in football

Footballer Kemar Roofe shows ITV News a racist message he received

Rangers footballer Kemar Roofe opened up his social media accounts after taking part in a four-day boycott over online abuse, only to find a racist message featuring an orangutan emoji.

Football organisations, clubs and players took part in a four-day social media boycott to call for social media companies to take action to end online abuse and stamp out racism on their platforms. The boycott ended at midnight on Tuesday.

Showing ITV News the Instagram messages which came through when he turned on his phone on Tuesday, Roofe said the messages were mostly supportive ones from Rangers fans, which highlighted the positives of social media.

It comes after Rangers' victory against their rival Celtic in the Scottish Premiership match on Sunday, where Roofe scored two goals.

But one racist message sent on Tuesday, which was a reply to a picture or video on his Instagram story, featured an orangutan.

Roofe opens up about the most painful abuse - the ones that involve his family

He showed ITV News another racist message sent last Wednesday, before the social media boycott. The message, which contained the n-word and monkey and banana emojis, is an example of the type of abuse he receives.

The midfielder opened up about receiving this type of message as much as "10 times a day" before Instagram and his football club took action to filter out most of the racist abuse.

He explained: "The most painful ones are when it's involving my family, my kids and the ones that are nothing to do with football.

"You try and get the balance of keeping family life and football life separate but when people say these comments, you've got your daughter in the picture as well, that's when it affects me the most."

Asked what kind of messages he would receive, he said: "Monkey this, banana that, die, hope you get killed, these sort of things."

The footballer also said messages do not necessarily have to be racist to be abusive and hurtful.

He revealed none of the abuse stemmed from his performance in Scottish football.

Instead, many have been linked to Europa League clashes, with most of his abusers appearing to be from Eastern Europe.

He said: "There's nothing I can do. I can't react. I'll never see these people. A lot of them are from a different country as well, that made it more difficult. You can't report to the police because they're from another country."

He believes the lack of abusive messages in relation to Scottish football stems from the fact that rival club Celtic came together to take a stand against racism and abuse.

He said: "Everyone has come together. For such a big rivalry, for both sets of players standing together before a game with such an importance on the game, I think it meant a lot to everybody and it just put everything in perspective, that online abuse, whether it's racism or bullying, there's no place for it in football. Let football just be football."

Roofe called for more identification controls on social media, pointing out that abusers who get blocked from social media platforms can easily create a new account.

He said: "There should be more security around creating accounts. You shouldn't be able to write something abusive and get away with it and not show your face or your details."