Manchester United manager Ole Gunnar Solskjaer has repeated the calls for social media platforms get a grip on racist abuse after Marcus Rashford became the latest player to be targeted.
Online abuse has been in the spotlight over the last week, with West Midlands Police arresting a 49-year-old man on suspicion of racially abusing West Brom’s Romaine Sawyers.
Chelsea defender Reece James shared vile messages he had been sent, while racist terms and monkey emojis were put on recent Instagram posts by United duo Anthony Martial and Axel Tuanzebe.
Solskjaer echoed the club’s condemnation of those “mindless idiots” and has again faced questions about such abuse after Rashford was attacked in the wake of Saturday’s 0-0 draw at Arsenal.
“I don’t this is just a matter of footballers or famous people,” the United said.
“Of course that gets highlighted. In a sense, it’s good that we talk about it, highlight it again, but it’s unacceptable behaviour.
“It happens all across the society and of course we work with the authorities and it has to be stopped.
“This way of discrimination on social media, we can’t do a lot can we?
“So we have to work with the platforms and they’ve got to be stronger to make sure that we stop this.”
Asked if he think it is possible to stop, Solskjaer said: “We all know there’s freedom of speech but this crosses a line of what’s unacceptable.
“It’s absolutely unacceptable behaviour in 2021 with the education.
“You feel the ignorance or you feel sorry for them – that’s what I always say.
“We’ve just got to help them and sometimes you help them by taking away the chance of expressing themselves, especially when they’re anonymous.”
Rashford acknowledged the racist abuse on Saturday but chose not to share offending screenshots.
“Humanity and social media at its worst,” he tweeted. “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.
“I’m not sharing screenshots. It would be irresponsible to do so and as you can imagine there’s nothing original in them.
“I have beautiful children of all colours following me and they don’t need to read it. Beautiful colours that should only be celebrated.”
The abuse of Rashford prompted an investigation from Greater Manchester Police and places further scrutiny on social media platforms as the UK Government plans to introduce new laws on online abuse in 2021.
The Duke of Cambridge has branded the racist abuse directed at footballers “despicable” and said it “must stop now”.
He tweeted: “Racist abuse – whether on the pitch, in the stands, or on social media – is despicable and it must stop now.
“We all have a responsibility to create an environment where such abuse is not tolerated, and those who choose to spread hate and division are held accountable for their actions. That responsibility extends to the platforms where so much of this activity now takes place.
“I commend all those players, supporters, clubs and organisations who continue to call out and condemn this abuse in the strongest terms.”