Now that clubs are taking tougher measures to deal with racial abuses in stadiums by handing life bans to culprits, the abusers are getting behind the anonymity of social media to commit their dastardly acts. Tammy Abraham missed the decisive penalty kick in the shootout against Liverpool during the Super Cup and very quickly racists took to social to abuse him and his race.
Ivorian Yakou Meite came on as a second half substitute for his club Reading and lost a 91st minute penalty against Cardiff, despite the fact that his club won 3-0, the racists took on him via Twitter. Paul Pogba lost a penalty for United, against Wolves, he was racially abused too on Twitter.
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Since these racists seem to enjoy penalties, maybe it is about time they faced their own too. Majority of fans, players, clubs and the FA want these racists to be dealt with so that the menace will not spread to other areas, putting to shame all the efforts Kick-It-Out has put into ending racism in English football.
The main stumbling block in getting the racists to pay for their sins is the anonymity provided by social media. A lot of these people don’t use their real names on their handles and you will find it difficult to identify them. This is where the providers of the media they are using come in. Twitter, for instance has people’s email addresses as well as the IP addresses of the computers they are using. All they need to do is supply this to the police and arrests can be made. Twitter however will want to protect the freedom of speech ethos and would not want to release this information. The police will then need to get a court order to get them to release it.
The culprits know this and that is why they are comfortable hiding behind their computers to unleash their bile messages. Players took to social media to enhance their own images but more importantly, to bring them more accessible to their fans, a lot of these fans appreciate this but a stupid minority wants to spoil the fun for everyone else.
There have been calls on Twitter and other social media providers to have a kind of filter that blocks racist messages from being published, failing that, they should delete such messages once published. This is a very good idea but it brings up another problem of its own. Except in very clear abuses like the ones aimed at Pogba, there are some that are not too clear. What someone would find offensive could be fun for another person.
Twitter is meeting with Manchester United officials next week to discuss the Pogba issue and hopefully, some agreements would be reached and it will be far reaching. Meanwhile, I would suggest that for now any clear racially offensive messages should be deleted by the provider straight off, while we wait for ways on how judge the ones that are not so clear.
If the players decide to stay off social media completely as they are being advised in some quarters, it is their millions of fans all over the world who will be the biggest losers.