Yan Dhanda: Swansea player grateful for support, calls for appropriate action on racist abuse

Yan Dhanda tells Sky Sports News he is grateful for messages of support and calls for action after being racially abused on social media; Fellow British Punjabi player Mal Benning says he was taken aback; Virendra Sharma MP says "vile" abuse directed at Dhanda "has no place in football"

Swansea City's Yan Dhanda sports a protective mask during the Emirates FA Cup fourth round match at the Liberty Stadium, Swansea. Picture date: Saturday January 23, 2021 2:40
Yan Dhanda spoke exclusively to Sky Sports News after he became the latest high-profile footballer to be subjected to racist abuse on social media

Yan Dhanda has told Sky Sports News he is grateful for the messages of support from "across the football community" after he was subjected to racist abuse online.

The Swansea attacking midfielder, who is one of Britain's highest-profile South Asian footballers, was targeted on social media after the midweek 3-1 FA Cup defeat to Manchester City.

Dhanda said on Twitter: "How can this STILL be happening in 2021? I'm so proud of who I am and representing Asians. More has to be done!"

The Premier League club said it was "supporting Swansea City and South Wales Police in their investigation of this matter, and to establish whether there was a Manchester City fan involved". Swansea had earlier said Dhanda has their "unwavering support".

British South Asians in Football

British South Asians in Football

For more stories, features and videos please visit our dedicated South Asians in Football page on skysports.com and on our digital platforms.

Dhanda told Sky Sports News: "I'm grateful for all of the messages of support I have received from across the football community and beyond.

"It is so important these matters are dealt with in an appropriate way. Equally, it is so important we continue to educate and highlight success stories from all communities in the game.

Facebook say they have restricted the account which sent the abusive messages and will remove any new accounts created to get around the restriction.

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A spokesperson told Sky Sports News: "We do not want racism and hate on our platforms. The person who sent this message has been restricted from sending messages for a set period of time, and we will remove new accounts created to get around this restriction.

"We think it's important people have the opportunity to learn from their mistakes but, per the new measures put in place this week, if they continue to break our rules this account will be removed."

English football bodies came together on Thursday to send an open letter to Facebook and Twitter demanding action amid increased levels of abuse aimed at footballers and officials on social media.

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Kick It Out chair Sanjay Bhandari says social media companies are in the best position to tackle online racism, but must have the determination to address the issue

The Premier League, FA, EFL, WSL, Women's Championship, PFA, LMA, PGMOL and Kick It Out all co-signed the letter to Twitter CEO Jack Dorsey and Facebook founder, chairman and CEO Mark Zuckerburg, asking them "for reasons of basic human decency" to use the power of their systems to end the abuse.

In response to the letter, a Facebook company spokesperson said: "The new measures we announced yesterday [Wednesday], which include tougher action when we become aware of people breaking our rules in DMs (direct messages), further build on the work we do to tackle this.

"We are part of the working group convened by Kick it Out and will continue to work alongside all the industry bodies, the police and the Government to help tackle racism both on and offline."

Yan Dhanda was racially abused on social media following Swansea's FA Cup defeat to Man City 0:40
Brighton manager Graham Potter says his former player at Swansea, Yan Dhanda will not be beaten by racist abuse he received on social media

'Vile racist abuse has no place in football'

In an exclusive statement to Sky Sports News, British South Asian MP Virendra Sharma condemned the online abuse directed at former England youth international Dhanda.

"The vile racist abuse Yan Dhanda received has no place in football or any other sport. It brings shame on the UK that this is tolerated anywhere," Sharma told Sky Sports News.

"It is for clubs and social media to have a complete no tolerance policy.

"I want to see social media bosses go further to stamp it out and make sure that their platforms are a tolerant place, not a breeding ground for racism and hate."

preview image 0:51
Mansfield Town defender Mal Benning says he was 'very surprised' to see Swansea's Yan Dhanda receive racist abuse

Benning "taken aback" by Dhanda abuse

Mansfield Town defender Mal Benning said he was "taken aback" by the abuse received by fellow British-Punjabi footballer Dhanda.

Dhanda was the target of racist abuse following Swansea's 3-1 defeat to Manchester City in the fifth round of the FA Cup - the latest in a long list of recent incidents of footballers receiving abuse on social media.

Manchester United's Axel Tuanzebe, Manchester United Women's Lauren James, and Chelsea's Antonio Rudiger and Reece James are among the players who have been racially abused on social media in recent weeks.

Benning himself was the subject of racist abuse on Twitter in January of last year,

He told Sky Sports News: "Obviously I've seen recently that Tuanzebe and (Marcus) Rashford have been abused, and it's even been happening in the women's game.

"But then when I saw that Yan Dhanda had been abused, I was quite taken aback by it. They (Swansea) were playing on a big platform against Manchester City in the FA Cup and there aren't many Asians in the game.

We're All In To Kick It Out

We're All In To Kick It Out

Kick It Out and Sky have launched a partnership to end racism in sport

"I've reached out to Yan and he's alright. There aren't many of us Asians in the game and I don't want it to discourage any young Asians from getting into the game because they think that's what it's like.

"It's obviously a small minority but also it's quite disgusting to see it happen as well and everyone wants to see it stamped out as soon as possible."

'We need to do better for Yan and the others'

The British Asians in Sport and Physical Activity (BASPA) Advisory Board said the online abuse directed at former Liverpool youngster Dhanda is "deeply worrying".

"What has happened to Yan Dhanda in terms of racism through social media is deeply concerning, saddening and at this point frustrating," the BASPA Advisory Board told Sky Sports News.

"While there are reviews taking place as to the responsibility of social media platforms to better safeguard users, we are more concerned with the persistent attitudes and bias that causes this racism.

Leicester City's Hamza Choudhury in action during the FA Cup third round match at The King Power Stadium, Leicester. 0:55
Hamza Choudhury's ball-winning ability made the Leicester City midfielder a nightmare to play against as a youngster, says fellow British South Asian footballer Yan Dhanda.

"Football is the most highly engaged sport for British South Asians but our representation at an elite level is incredibly poor.

"The figures regarding South Asian players in professional football and as coaches are not reflective of the diverse talent pool, we need only think of the vast population that British South Asians represent. Yet barely a dozen out of 3,700 professional footballers are Asian and less than five per cent of first-team coaches are from an ethnically diverse background let alone South Asian.

"This is relevant as Yan is a rare example of someone who has defeated the odds, his sheer grit, determination and talent meant he was able to supersede the challenges of unconscious bias to only be confronted with racial abuse online.

preview image 6:18
Sporting Equals Chief Executive Arun Kang speaks about what the FA and Premier League need to do to increase British South Asian representation in the professional game

"The message this sends out to the communities we represent is deeply worrying. The barriers in regards to engagement with British South Asians in football are already plenty and now we have had yet another reminder that we are not welcome.

"We need to do better for Yan and for all the British South Asian talent who seek similar heights of success. It is essential for the sector to take pause and really look at why racism persists and how we can take an approach which ensures the longevity of equality for all communities."

Kick It Out: We applaud Dhanda for speaking out

Football's equality and inclusion organisation, also condemned the abuse and praised Dhanda for being a fantastic role model and speaking out on the issue.

Kick It Out chair Sanjay Bhandari told Sky Sports News: "We have again seen another example of online hate last night, against Swansea City forward Yan Dhanda. Discriminatory abuse can have significant real-world impact on the welfare of the victims.

"Yan is one of very few South Asian players competing in professional football in the UK, and we would like to see more South Asian representation across the game. Yan is a fantastic role model, and we applaud him for speaking out and taking a stand against the abuse he received.

Bik (L) and Micky Singh Blues 4 All (credit: Roy Smiljanic) 1:47
Father and son Micky and Bik Singh tell Micah Richards why they set up Birmingham City supporters' club Blues 4 All. (Micah Richards: Tackling Racism is available on-demand on Sky Documentaries and NOW TV)

"We know the police are now involved in this case and we hope the right punishment is given to the individual responsible for this terrible abuse. We do encourage players to get support from their club in the first instance, but support is also available from the PFA and Kick It Out."

'One case is one too many'

Anti-racism education organisation Show Racism the Red Card also extended its support to Dhanda.

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Chief executive Ged Grebby told Sky Sports News: "First of all and most importantly we'd like to extend our support to Yan Dhanda and the ever-growing list of victims of racial abuse.

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Ex-footballer Leroy Rosenior says people are 'screaming for action' to be taken against those abusing individuals on social media

"Even one case is one too many, however this seems to be a daily occurrence. Social media companies and the relevant authorities must do more and do it quickly, not only reactively to online abuse but proactively in supporting the likes of our education programmes throughout society.

"Racism occurs everyday at every level, from the top flight down to the grassroots; inside and outside of the game. We must all work together with a wholistic approach to tackle this historic pandemic of racism."

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Kick It Out is football's equality and inclusion organisation - working throughout the football, educational and community sectors to challenge discrimination, encourage inclusive practices and campaign for positive change. www.kickitout.org/

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For more stories, features and videos please visit our dedicated South Asians in Football page on skysports.com and stay tuned to Sky Sports News and our Sky Sports digital platforms.

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