Steve Bruce: Newcastle boss has received death threats on social media, calls such abuse obscene

Mike Dean and Manchester United players Marcus Rashford, Axel Tuanzebe, Anthony Martial and Lauren James are among those who have been the targets of social media abuse; Steve Bruce reveals he has suffered the same threats; Joe Willock reveals he has also received 'disgusting' abuse

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Newcastle head coach Steve Bruce says he has recently received death threats on social media and insists more needs to be done to tackle online abuse.

Steve Bruce says he has received death threats on social media, calling what Mike Dean and other players have had to endure this week "obscene".

Dean and his family received death threats on social media after two controversial incidents last week after the 52-year-old issued red cards to Southampton's Jan Bednarek and West Ham's Tomas Soucek. The abuse received has lead to Dean requesting to be taken off Premier League refereeing duty this weekend.

It is not just Dean who has had to endure such threats. Manchester United players Marcus Rashford, Axel Tuanzebe, Anthony Martial and Lauren James are among those who have been the targets of social media abuse, along with West Brom's Romaine Sawyers and Chelsea defender Reece James, Lauren James' brother.

Bruce is the latest to reveal he has also been targeted.

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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.

"I just know that in conversations I've had with my family over the last few days, when we've been talking about the Mike Dean situation, it was brought to my attention that I've had it too," Bruce said.

"It's really horrible stuff, which I couldn't really get my breath with. Things like someone saying they hope I die of Covid and all of this.

"I don't go on it but of, course, people close to me do and they are sensitive towards their father and yes [there have been death threats]. Yep, I've had that to deal with too."

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The government must implement legislation against online hate abuse, says shadow minister for science, research and digital Chi Onwurah.

Bruce, 60, is not on social media but his son and former footballer, Alex, is and has shared abusive online messages he has received that are aimed at his father.

"Social media is a really powerful weapon for everyone concerned," Bruce added. "The abuse that I've had - death threats and all this sort of stuff.

"When I see a referee having to come away from it because he's made a mistake and people threatening him with his life - It's obscene and totally ridiculous. They need to clamp down and police it better. We need to stop it basically.

"There are vulnerable people out there and it's absolutely vile, some of it. It needs to stop."

Willock: Racist abuse I have received is disgusting

Joe Willock has told Sky Sports News that he also received death threats and "disgusting" racist abuse since 2019.

Willock joined Newcastle on loan from Arsenal on Deadline Day, before scoring on debut for his new side in their 3-2 win over Southampton at the weekend, and the now 21-year-old has added his voice to the growing clamour for action to be taken by social media companies.

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Clinton Morrison and Paul Merson say more needs to be done after Facebook, who also own Instagram, promised to introduce stricter measures to tackle online racist abuse.

"I have always said people don't understand that we are human, we are flesh and blood and feel emotion," Willock said. "When people are sending you death threats, racist comments, things about your family or the way you look, it has a psychological effect. It's horrendous the things I see online and the messages I get.

"I was getting racist comments, things that were disgusting. Social media platforms like Twitter and Instagram need to do something about this. There has to be a duty of care for people in the limelight and also for other people on there. People are going to keep getting depressed and keep committing suicide - and they need to stop it.

"It was 2019 and I was getting these threats. There was so much pressure on me playing for Arsenal at such a young age - but that is my job and my job is in the limelight. You are getting these messages and it is crazy what it can do to a young boy.

"It didn't affect me too much because I have a great family that helps me deal with these sort of things. But other people, who are getting the same, it can be detrimental to their careers. It is impossible to ignore - they @ you, they tag you, they message directly. It is always in your face."

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In an interview with Sky Sports News, Facebook Content Policy Manager Fadzai Madzingira, who works across Instagram and Facebook, discusses what steps social media companies can take alongside the government to tackle online hate.

English football to Facebook, Twitter: 'You are havens for abuse'

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

The Premier League, FA, EFL, WSL, Women's Championship, PFA, LMA, PGMOL and Kick It Out have 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.

Facebook-owned Instagram announced new measures, including the removal of accounts to prevent abusive messages on its platform and developing new controls to help reduce the abuse people see.

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Manchester City forward Georgia Stanway says England team-mate Lauren James has her 'backing and support' after she was racially abused on social media.

The letter from football's governing bodies said: "The language used is debasing, often threatening and illegal. It causes distress to the recipients and the vast majority of people who abhor racism, sexism and discrimination of any kind.

"We have had many meetings with your executives over the years but the reality is your platforms remain havens for abuse."

Hate Won't Stop Us

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This is the message from Sky Sports presenters and reporters, who have united in supporting a new campaign aimed at raising awareness of online hate and abuse on social media.

Sky Sports is committed to making and our channels on social media platforms a place for comment and debate that is free of abuse, hate and profanity.

For more information please visit:

If you see a reply to Sky Sports posts and/or content with an expression of hate on the basis of race, colour, gender, nationality, ethnicity, disability, religion, sexuality, age or class please copy the URL to the hateful post or screengrab it and email us here.

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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.

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