Bristol Rovers player Mark Little calls for ID checks on social media after racist abuse

Mark Little signed for Bristol Rovers in 2019. Credit: BPM Media

Bristol Rovers player Mark Little has spoken to ITV News West Country following a police investigation into racist abuse towards the defender on social media.

The 32-year-old footballer has called for identification to be used on social media sites to prevent people getting away with sending abusive messages anonymously.

The FA is also calling on the Government to act and for social media companies to be more accountable.

The racist comments - which have now been taken down - were sent to Mark on Instagram.

'Tired of having the same conversations' - Mark Little speaks to ITV News

Mark Little told ITV News West Country: "At the moment I'm just a bit tired of still having the same conversations. There was a range of emotions that I went through.

"Confusion at first. I had no idea where it had come from, as I don't think I'd provoked anyone at that point.

"On Sunday afternoon, I hadn't played in a while, so you usually get that type of abuse from playing really badly or playing really well - depending on how you look at it.

"So confusion, then anger, pure anger when I worked out what it was."

Mark spoke of the "wave of support" he received after being targeted for racist abuse. He said he had "thousands and thousands of messages from everywhere".

The player is now calling for social media sites to take action.

He said: "If you had to provide any form of ID to use these social media platforms then it would solve nigh-on all of the problems because I've never, ever met a person on the street who has just come up to me and had their free say of what their opinions are.

"So they shouldn't be able to be doing that online."

The footballer said how "easy it could be" for someone to create a fake profile on social media sites to "message abuse at someone" and then "disappear off the face of the earth".

He added: "It's very easy for that to happen. We need to make that clear that it's still happening. It's not going away, and it's very easy for people to do that with no consequences."

Defender Mark Little (back) has made four appearances for Bristol Rovers this season. Credit: PA Images

Bristol Rovers showed their support for their footballer, saying there is "no place in sport or society for racism" whilst stressing discrimination will not be tolerated.

Avon and Somerset Police are investigating the racist message. The force has confirmed a Bristol Rovers player was sent a racist post on social media on Sunday 7 February.

Mark Little talking to press after a game against Ipswich Town in September 2020. Credit: Bristol Rovers/Facebook

At the moment, social media users only need to provide identification if they have a blue verified badge - which Mark Little has.

He said: "If I'm using Facebook, Instagram or Twitter, I have to provide ID. So I don't understand why I have to provide ID when I've never abused anyone in my life. So that's confusing for me and I hope that gets solved".

Secretary of State for Digital, Culture, Media and Sport, Oliver Dowden says the Government is going to "change the law" to make social media companies "more accountable".

Facebook, which owns Instagram, has said that it is taking action to remove accounts and will reveal shortly its plans for combating online abuse.