The Football Association has vowed to work with the government and social media platforms to eradicate racist abuse after a succession of incidents. The Chelsea defender Reece James, West Brom’s Romaine Sawyers and the Manchester United duo Axel Tuanzebe and Anthony Martial were all targeted this week and on Saturday night Marcus Rashford said he had received offensive messages after United’s draw at Arsenal.
Rashford chose not to share screenshots of the messages he had been sent as “it would be irresponsible to do so … I have beautiful children of all colours following me and they don’t need to read it.”
The Manchester United player described the abuse as “humanity and social media at its worst. Yes I’m a black man and I live every day proud that I am. No one, or no one comment, is going to make me feel any different. So sorry if you were looking for a strong reaction, you’re just simply not going to get it here.”
The governing body had earlier reiterated its commitment to fight discrimination, saying: “We are united with all of football in our abhorrence of racist abuse … We will continue to work with the rest of the game, the government and social media to remove this, and all elements of, discrimination from our sport.”
The England international James also received the support of the national side. A post on the team’s Twitter account said: “Every time one of our players – or anybody – faces abuse, it only increases our determination to stamp racism out of the game. It is our duty to drive change and to ensure that no individual has to endure what Reece has.”
The FA spoke out after Chelsea threw their weight behind calls for social media companies to step up efforts to tackle trolls after James revealed he had been targeted on Friday evening. A statement issued via the Blues’ Twitter account said: “This club finds racism and all forms of discriminatory behaviour completely unacceptable. We totally condemn it. In sport, as in wider society, we must create a social media environment where hateful and discriminatory actions are as unacceptable online as they would be on the street.”
James addressed the issue again in an Instagram post on Saturday. He wrote: “We all have a part to play in making this world a better & more equal place! Racism is completely unacceptable! Human is our only race! instagram you must do more!! #notoracism.”
His Chelsea teammates Thiago Silva and César Azpilicueta were among those to tweet in support of James. Speaking on Friday about the earlier incidents, the Premier League chief executive, Richard Masters, said: “Tackling online hate is a priority for football, and I believe social media companies need to do more.”
Relating to the abuse of Sawyers, West Midlands Police said a 49-year-old man from Kingswinford was questioned on Friday evening. The force’s football hate crime officer is also investigating reports of another racist comment towards the player.