Liverpool captain Jordan Henderson has called the racist abuse that players have been subjected to an “assault with words” and asked social media companies to do more.
Over the last week, we have seen another spate of racist abuse aimed at Black professional footballers, with the UK government now threatening large fines for social media companies who do not tackle the abuse on their platforms.
Henderson wrote in his latest programme notes: “It is time for those who have the power and authority to intervene to do so, be that governments or the social media companies themselves who benefit from the interaction of football supporters all over the world.
“When you're coming through as a young footballer you know that criticism is part and parcel of the life that awaits you and you absolutely accept that. It goes with the territory.
"But there is a big difference between criticism and abuse. And there is another level beyond that which is criminal abuse… or hate crimes.
"At Liverpool and England, this season and last, I have witnessed people with whom I have shared a dressing room be subjected to what I would describe as written assaults - in the form of threats and attacks in comments and direct messaging.
"It really gets to me when I hear the suggested solution is for the player who has been the target of the abuse to come off social media. Would you say to someone who had their car stolen the solution is to walk everywhere and no longer own a car?
"It seems to me that when this comes around it gets swept under the carpet because the solution is considered too difficult. I don't think that is an acceptable excuse."
Henderson also called on social media companies to ensure that the individuals using their platforms can be identified, stating this was a “critical first step” to ensure those who send messages could be held accountable for their actions: “Take away the ability to hide like a coward. That would be a good start.”
Many footballers have spoken out about how the racial abuse they suffered during their careers impacted them. PFA members affected by racism or discrimination can access our wellbeing support, which is available year-round, by calling our dedicated 24/7 helpline on 07500 000 777.