Phil Neville calls for social media boycott over online racist abuse
Neville: 'Twitter won't do anything about it, Instagram won't do anything about it. They send you an email reply saying they'll investigate but nothing happens'
By Dan Sansom
Last Updated: 21/08/19 10:50am
England Women head coach Phil Neville is calling on the "football community" to boycott social media platforms until they do more to tackle racism.
Manchester United midfielder Paul Pogba, Chelsea striker Tammy Abraham and Reading's Yakou Meite have all recently received online racist abuse.
Pogba was targeted following United's 1-1 draw with Wolves on Monday Night Football, prompting a strong statement from the club on Tuesday morning to condemn the abuse and urge social media companies "to take action".
Pogba's team-mates Marcus Rashford and Jesse Lingard have both tweeted their support, too, while United defender Harry Maguire has suggested people should only be able to open social media accounts if they provide proof of identity.
Neville agrees with Maguire but believes companies like Twitter will only act if they are forced to do so.
"I personally think that we have to take drastic measures now as a football community," Neville said.
"I've had it with my players on social media, the Premier League stars, the other divisions have had it and I just wonder whether as a football community now we come off social media.
"Twitter won't do anything about it, Instagram won't do anything about it. They send you an email reply saying they'll investigate but nothing happens.
"I've lost total faith in whoever runs these social media departments so as a football community in terms of really sending out a powerful message, let's come off social media and see the effect that it has on these social media companies and whether they are really going to do something about it."
Asked if the football industry should collectively sit down and discuss this with social media companies, Neville replied: "Don't we have that? Don't we have a task force? The FA are doing everything possible, the Premier League have got campaigns and are doing everything possible.
"We're plugging holes here and then there's leaks elsewhere, and I'm just focusing on the social media aspect of what Paul went through last night, Tammy last week, my players daily."
Twitter responded to "strongly condemn" the online abuse aimed at players and revealed it had "permanently suspended a series of accounts".
A statement read: "We're fully aware of and share the concerns surrounding online racist abuse towards certain footballers in the UK over recent days.
"We strongly condemn this unacceptable behaviour, and have now permanently suspended a series of accounts for violating our Hateful Conduct Policy.
"We're proactively monitoring the conversation online and will continue taking robust action on any account which violates our Rules.
"This is a societal issue and requires a societal response. This is why we maintain a dialogue with both the PFA and Kick It Out and are committed to working together to address abusive online and racist behaviour across the industry.
"We continue to liaise closely with our partners to identify meaningful solutions to this unacceptable behaviour - both offline and on."
Kick It Out has been talking about the rise of discrimination on social media for years and has repeatedly called on Facebook, Twitter and others to take down offensive posts more quickly, block accounts and report cases to the police.
"The number of posts such as these since the start of the season further highlights how discriminatory abuse online is out of control," the charity said in response to the latest incidents.
"Without immediate and the strongest possible action these cowardly acts will continue to grow."
Racism on the rise - 2018/19 Kick It Out report
- Reports of racism in English football rose 43 per cent
- 422 reports of discrimination in professional and grassroots football - compared to 319 in 2017/18
- A further 159 reports were received via social media
- Racial abuse constituted 65 per cent of all discrimination reports
A report released by Kick It Out in July said reports of racism in English football rose by 43 per cent - from 192 to 274 - last season.
Factoring in all forms of discrimination, reports of abuse in professional and grassroots football increased by 32 per cent to 422, compared to 319 during the 2017/18 campaign.
A further 159 reports were received via social media.
Last month, Chelsea banned one individual from Stamford Bridge for the use of racially abusive language and threatening and aggressive behaviour during match against Manchester City on December 8, 2018.
The Premier League club also temporarily banned five other supporters for periods of between one and two years for the use of abusive language and threatening and aggressive behaviour at the same fixture.