LONDON: England women’s manager Phil Neville believes football players should boycott social media in the wake of Manchester United midfielder Paul Pogba becoming the latest high-profile figure to suffer racist abuse online.
Pogba was targeted after his penalty was saved in United’s 1-1 draw at Wolves on Monday just days after Chelsea striker Tammy Abraham suffered similar abuse.
“I think we probably have to take drastic measures now as a football community – I’ve had it with my players on social media, the Premier League stars and the Championship have had it,” said Neville on Tuesday.
“I just wonder whether as a football community we come off social media. Because 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 let’s send a powerful message: come off social media (for) six months. Let’s see the effect it has on these social media companies.”
Manchester United defender Harry Maguire also called on social media giants Twitter and Instagram to be more pro-active to stop “pathetic trolls”.
“Disgusting. Social media need to do something about it,” Maguire, the world’s most expensive defender after an £80 million (US$97 million) move from Leicester earlier this month, posted on Twitter.
“Every account that is opened should be verified by a passport/driving licence. Stop these pathetic trolls making numerous accounts to abuse people. @Twitter @instagram.”
Some of the tweets aimed at Pogba were later deleted while several accounts appeared to have been taken down.
Twitter’s terms and conditions say it “takes action against behaviour that targets individuals with hateful conduct”.
United said they were “disgusted” by the abuse.
“The individuals who expressed these views do not represent the values of our great club and it is encouraging to see the vast majority of our fans condemn this on social media also,” the club said in a statement.
“Manchester United has zero tolerance of any form of racism or discrimination and a long-standing commitment to campaigning against it through our #AllRedAllEqual initiative.
“We will work to identify the few involved in these incidents and take the strongest course of action available to us. We also encourage social media companies to take action in these cases.”
Many commentators argued that Pogba should have let Marcus Rashford take the vital penalty at Molineux after the England international scored from the spot against Chelsea on the opening weekend of the season.
However, Rashford also showed his public support for Pogba.
“Manchester United is a family. @paulpogba is a huge part of that family. You attack him you attack us all…” said Rashford.
As well as Abraham, Championship side Reading’s Yakou Meite have suffered similar abuse in the past week.
Anti-discrimination charity “Kick It Out” published a report in July that stated incidents of racist abuse increased by 43% last season.
“The number of posts such as these since the start of the season further highlights how discriminatory abuse online is out of control,” the body said on Tuesday.
“Without immediate and the strongest possible action these cowardly acts will continue to grow.”
Abraham missed the final penalty in a shootout as Chelsea lost to Liverpool in the UEFA Super Cup last Wednesday.
The posts aimed at him were described as “abhorrent” by Chelsea and manager Frank Lampard said he was “disgusted”.
Lampard also called for social media sites to do more to prevent players being abused while Abraham has said he wants to “silence the haters” with his performances on the pitch.
Chelsea banned a supporter for life in July for racially abusing Manchester City’s Raheem Sterling last season.