Updated 20th August 2019
In the space of less than seven days, we have seen vile racist abuse aimed at three of our members by football ‘fans’ on social media.
All three instances followed penalty misses - Chelsea striker, Tammy Abraham missed a penalty in UEFA Super Cup shoot-out, Yakou Meite missed a penalty in Reading's 3-0 win against Cardiff City and Paul Pogba missed a penalty in Manchester United's Premier League draw against Wolves.
Following Chelsea's loss to Liverpool last Wednesday, Tammy Abraham subsequently received racist abuse and death threats, alongside an image of the Ku Klux Klan.
Chelsea striker, Tammy Abraham
Chelsea manager, Frank Lampard, has publicly condemned the posts, saying:
“I am particularly disgusted by a so-called Chelsea fan… Somebody sitting behind a keyboard or a phone has said the most disgusting things possible you can say.
“I’m so angry for Tammy and so angry for us as a club because that’s not what we’re about. The club does a lot of work against discrimination at all levels, and it’s a setback when these things happen.”
This weekend, Reading’s Yakou Meite missed a penalty following his late introduction at the Madejski Stadium. He later posted an abusive message he had received privately on social media, adding the caption: "I don't think I need to speak."
Reading striker, Yakou Meite
The club tweeted a picture of Meite celebrating, with the words: "We won’t give oxygen to racist comments sent to this man via social media this afternoon.
"Instead, we will let a picture tell a thousand words. 'We’ve got Meite...Yakou Meite...'”
Meite later added: "Thanks everyone for the support, we are all together."
Last night Paul Pogba missed a penalty against Wolves and was then subject to abuse and death threats on Twitter.
In a club statement, United said: “Everyone at Manchester United is disgusted by the racial abuse aimed at Paul Pogba last night and we utterly condemn it.
"The individuals who expressed these views do not represent the values of our great club and it is encouraging to see the vast majority of our fans condemn this on social media also."
While we echo the sentiment shared by Chelsea, Reading and Manchester United, the PFA would like to speak directly to football fans who think it is acceptable to racially abuse a player:
Football is an inclusive sport. We work hard to ensure equality throughout the game. The diverse talent in the game is a representation of strength and unity.
Racist and any discriminatory abuse is completely unacceptable and should not be tolerated by teams, players, managers or fans across football.
We are working hard to ensure that all instances of racist and discriminatory abuse towards players – on-field, off-field or online – are treated as a hate crime. We will work with clubs, the football bodies and social networks to ensure that the strongest possible action is taken against offenders.
Since the #Enough social media boycott, the PFA has been working with Twitter, Facebook and Instagram to determine the best way to protect players from such incidents. As communicated to the networks, we feel strongly that the removal of offending posts or suspension of accounts involved in sending racist abuse is not adequate. We want their policies and guidelines to reflect zero tolerance towards racism and, as such, accounts should be deleted as a minimum.
Following racist posts aimed at Paul Pogba the PFA have collated abusive account handles and screenshots and sent this directly to Twitter. As communicated to the networks, we feel strongly that the removal of offending posts or suspension of accounts involved in sending racist abuse is not adequate. We want their policies and guidelines to reflect zero tolerance towards racism and, as such, accounts should be deleted as a minimum.
The account holders sent appear to be anonymous, making further real-world offline follow-up difficult. Some of the accounts reported have 1000+ followers, so we feel permanent deletion will have at least have some (albeit insufficient) consequence.
Wherever possible, we want offenders to face offline consequences. If an account holder is identifiable and a UK citizen, they should be held accountable under the law, as well as being banned from attending football matches in the future.
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.