“You attack him, you attack us all,” said Marcus Rashford after his Manchester United teammate Paul Pogba was racially abused on social media following his penalty miss in the draw at Wolverhampton Wanderers on Monday evening.
Pogba’s miss from 12 yards cost his side all three points at Molineux and prompted a minority of his own supporters to turn on him.
I wish I could say the incident was an isolated one. But it wasn’t, far from it.
We’ll tell you what’s true. You can form your own view.
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Chelsea’s Tammy Abraham was subjected to similar abuse for missing the crucial spot kick in his side’s Super Cup defeat to Liverpool last Wednesday while Reading striker Yakou Meite suffered the same treatment for missing his own 91st minute effort on Sunday.
Three players in six days in 2019, all because they missed a penalty they were trying to score.
“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,” United said in the wake of Monday’s events.
While United struck the right tone, they didn’t go anywhere near far enough. “Encouraging” social media companies simply isn’t enough. It is imperative we continue to press the social media giants to take decisive action with this sort of abuse, which is becoming more and more commonplace.
“We remain deeply committed to improving the health of the conversation on the service and in that respect we continue to prioritise the safety of our users,” Twitter said a week ago.
Again this is fundamentally the right message, but until these “abhorrent posts”, as Chelsea called them, are a thing of the past, we must continue to shine a light on each and every incident.
As journalists, we are often criticised for reporting on such matters. Naysayers claim that continued reports of racism only give oxygen to those looking to breathe more hate into the conversation, that highlighting racist abuse only emboldens others to follow suit.
I couldn’t disagree more. Doing nothing allowed this to happen. Doing something to stamp it out it for good is far overdue.
Acting sports editor