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Liverpool duo Trent Alexander-Arnold and Naby Keita subjected to racist abuse online

Liverpool's Trent Alexander-Arnold and Naby Keita receive racist emojis in replies to pictures posted on Instagram; abuse is similar to that received by Brentford striker Ivan Toney on Tuesday; Merseyside Police and Facebook have launched their own investigations into the incidents

Trent Alexander-Arnold and Naby Keita received online abuse following Liverpool's defeat to Real Madrid
Image: Trent Alexander-Arnold and Naby Keita received online abuse following Liverpool's defeat to Real Madrid

Merseyside Police have launched an investigation after Liverpool duo Trent Alexander-Arnold and Naby Keita were subjected to racist abuse on social media platform Instagram.

The abuse sent to Keita was in the form of monkey emojis and posted in response to a picture published prior to Liverpool's Champions League defeat at Real Madrid, while monkey emojis were sent to Alexander-Arnold on a picture he posted on Easter Sunday.

Facebook, which owns Instagram, has told Sky Sports News it is also investigating the issue.

A Merseyside Police spokesman said: "We take all reports of hate crime extremely seriously and detectives are currently investigating the matter in conjunction with Liverpool Football Club.

"I want to reassure the public that we will continue to work closely with partners to ensure that those responsible for incidents of hate crime are dealt with robustly and brought to justice.

"I would also like to remind social media users that any offences committed online, including malicious communications and any inappropriate behaviour, can be investigated."

Liverpool have condemned the "abhorrent" racial abuse which was sent to two of the club's players on Tuesday evening.

A Liverpool FC spokesperson said: "Once again we are sadly discussing abhorrent racial abuse the morning after a football game. It is utterly unacceptable and it has to stop.

"LFC condemns all forms of discrimination and we continue to work with our inclusion partners through our Red Together initiative to campaign against it.

"As a club, we will offer our players any and all support that they may require. We will also work with the relevant authorities to identify and, if possible, prosecute those responsible.

"We know that this will not be enough until the strongest possible preventative measures are taken by social media platforms and the regulatory bodies which govern them.

"The current situation cannot be allowed to continue and it is incumbent on all of us to ensure that it does not."

On Tuesday, Brentford striker Ivan Toney was subjected to similar racist abuse on Instagram, the second time the player has received such comments.

The 25-year-old highlighted a private message sent to him after Brentford's goalless draw with Birmingham on Tuesday night.

It included the word 'monkey' and a number of monkey and banana emojis.

With it, Toney said: "Honestly, I'm done."

Facebook has told Sky Sports News that it has removed the Instagram account that sent the message to Toney for breaking its rules.

Thierry Henry recently disabled all of his social media accounts in response to abuse he described as "too toxic to ignore" and Gareth Bale has said he would consider joining a similar boycott.

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