'It's disgusting': Colchester United's Callum Harriott calls for racist trolls to face tougher sanctions

Colchester United's Callum Harriott has added his voice to the growing calls for social media companies to take greater responsibility for racist abuse posted on their platforms.

This weekend, Manchester United players Axel Tuanzebe and Lauren James became the latest in a long line of players to be targeted by trolls.

In response to the latest two incidents, culture secretary Oliver Dowden tweeted that the government will soon change the law to make social media companies more accountable for posts on their sites.

Colchester winger Harriott, 26, has also been subjected to abuse in the past and believes enough is enough.

"We're (black players) not going anywhere," he told ITV News Anglia.

"Black players are still going to be playing football, we're still going to be here - we're not coming off social media. I just think that it's ridiculous.

"The amount of talking that's going on and there's no action. How can someone leave comments on Instagram and social media pages and it's OK for it to be left there? I think it's disgusting."

  • Watch an extended interview with Callum Harriott

One of the potential sanctions that's been discussed is huge fines for social media companies who don't take action to prevent offensive posts on their sites, and Kick It Out chair Sanjay Bhandari agrees that tougher sanctions are needed.

"No one would throw a banana at a black player on a pitch with complete confidence that they're not going to be identified, but they'll do it online because there are no consequences," he said.

"So, the only way that you can change that behaviour is by creating real world consequences for online behaviour." 

That's a view echoed by Dr Dan Kilvington, who is an expert in sport, media and race.

He believes that the key to solving the problem in the long run is to educate young people about hate speech in schools like they do in other countries.

"We should follow the route of countries like Singapore and Australia who actually have an educational curriculum which actually talks about hate speech - how to detect it online and how to report it," said Dr Kilvington.

"Now, we need to do something like that to ensure that the next generation and the young people coming through don't perpetuate the same things we're seeing now."

Callum Harriott talks to ITV News Anglia's Andy Ward. Credit: ITV News Anglia

Guyana international Harriott is now getting ready to launch his new clothing range, aptly named 'Equality.'

A number of high-profile players have already signed up to wear his merchandise, and he's hoping that, together, they can spread a positive message that everyone deserves to be treated the same - regardless of the colour of their skin.

"I think it will be good for the world to see something positive and something that people can relate to," he said.

"It's not just race - it's anything that you want to take out of the word equality. So, I'm hoping that we can push that out there and do it in the right way."