Lyle Taylor has experienced significant football-related racial abuse both on and offline.
Now, the Charlton striker has drawn a line in the sand, saying he would be willing to walk off the next time it happens during a game.
Lyle took part in the PFA’s #Enough campaign, boycotting all social media channels for 24 hours to highlight the sheer amount of racist abuse levelled at him and his fellow players.
Also the captain of the Montserrat national side, Lyle shares his thoughts about how to tackle this important issue.
Lyle, what did you think of the PFA’s enough campaign?
I think it was a necessity and it was good to see the number of people who participated. I did see some people taking part and then still posting on social media that same day, so it was almost a token gesture on their part. For me, it was about standing together and supporting each other, so even with those people, at least they put the picture up and the message got out there.
Is there a difference between the racist abuse you receive on social media and what happens in the grounds?
All the abuse is similar and I understand that there is a culture of heckling opposition players. If you want to stand on the side of the pitch and call me names then fine, but once colour, religion or sexual orientation get bought into it that’s a step too far, and something is seriously wrong.
What do you think has caused racism online to be so rife?
I think it comes from the political climate. You’ve got the EDL, Tommy Robinson and Nigel Farage spouting nonsense about immigrants. You’ve got the man leading one of the worlds’ superpowers spouting all sorts whenever he chooses to.
Have football’s governing bodies done enough to tackle racism in the sport?
They need to do more than they’re doing because at the moment it’s almost farcical. I had a conversation with a few black players – past and present - and they’ve said to me it seems like the dust settles and football’s authorities then just carry on like nothing’s happened, and to be honest, that’s exactly how I feel.
All that’s going to happen is more and more players are going to become alienated because nothing is done. The various bodies need to work together because the longer they leave it, and the more this kind of abuse happens, the worse it’s going to be because they’re going to lose the faith of the players.
What do you think needs to happen next?
There has to be a proper punishment for racial abuse, instead of just arresting people and saying ‘don’t do it again’. Maybe some sort of community service - that way at least they will be forced to give back, and the rest of us might benefit from it. There has to be an educational element too. Otherwise, it’s just going to keep happening. Truthfully, racism is just ignorance, and people need to learn that the things they say have real consequences. At a previous club of mine, I’m their record goalscorer, scored the winner at Wembley, and helped them get promoted, and I still get racially abusive messages from a 14-year-old fan.
People don’t know what it is to be a footballer - there are more negatives than you’ll ever find out. The perception is that it’s the best job in the world, you turn up on a Saturday, play a game and then go home and count your millions. People don’t think about the psychological impact racist abuse can have on an individual, and I don’t think I should ever be subjected to anything because of the colour of my skin.
The PFA is working on the next phase of the #Enough campaign - speaking to social media companies about how they can stop the racial abuse of football players. We encourage all former and current players to collate any abusive messages and send them to us as evidence so we can continue to push to end this toxic culture from the sport.
Join the campaign: firstname.lastname@example.org