PFA sees spike in reports of racist abuse since lockdown
PFA has made contact with Wilfried Zaha and David McGoldrick
By Rebecca Williams, Sky Sports reporter
Last Updated: 14/07/20 2:51pm
The union representing footballers in the UK says it has seen a spike in reports of racist abuse on social media since the lockdown.
The Professional Footballers' Association (PFA) has made contact with Sheffield United striker David McGoldrick and Crystal Palace's Wilfried Zaha, who were both sent vile messages at the weekend.
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West Midlands Police have now arrested a 12-year-old boy in connection with the alleged abuse of Zaha.
Former player and PFA coaching and equalities executive, Iffy Onuora, wants to see a more meaningful reaction to the abuse suffered by players.
"They are thick skinned and resilient, so they are not going anywhere," he told Sky Sports News.
"Let's face it, whatever abuse is sent out we have got to call it out, of course. These guys are role models, incredibly capable and talented guys. They are going to continue doing their jobs. That is their message.
"There has been a massive spike [in abuse] and maybe the lockdown has only exacerbated that. You have people stuck at home alone in doors, with just a computer to while away the time.
"And I am aware some of the data that has led to a spike of online hate crimes…we have just got to try and react to that better and quicker than we do at the moment."
During his playing career at Huddersfield, Swindon and Gillingham, Onuora says he received abuse from the terraces, but social media was not an issue in those days.
He believes education is key and must start at a young age.
The PFA, who already try to trace the digital footprint of those sending abusive messages, has called for the government and police to take action to tackle the wider issue of how people can post anonymously on social media.
Onuora said: "They have this power that has come into them now, through the way we all conduct our lives, which is fine. No one would want to turn the clock back.
"But with that power comes responsibility and we have to push the social media companies.
"I am pleased that the government are talking about OFCOM or certainly a regulatory body monitoring the work of social media, like other media have the same."