Neville calls for social media boycott after Pogba abuse

Simon Austin's picture
by Simon Austin
Phil Neville

England women’s manager Phil Neville has suggested that the football community boycotts social media for six months following the racist abuse of Manchester United midfielder Paul Pogba.

The Frenchman was targeted after missing a penalty against Wolves at the weekend, leading to United issuing a statement condemning the abuse.

Team-mate Harry Maguire described the posts as “disgusting” and the result of “pathetic trolls”.

Neville, himself a former Manchester United player, said: “I’ve lost total faith in whoever runs these social media departments, so I just wonder whether now as a football community, in terms of really sending a powerful message, it is: come off social media.

“Six months – let’s come off social media. Let’s see the effect that it has on these social media companies, whether they’re really going to do something about it.

“Maguire said this morning about being verified, giving passport details and addresses to be hold accountable for posting such disgusting things. You can be an egg on Twitter and no one knows who you are.”

Tammy Abraham received similar abuse following Chelsea’s Super Cup defeat by Liverpool and Reading striker Yakou Méïté highlighted messages sent to him following his saved penalty against Cardiff.

In October, Neville similarly condemned “absolutely disgraceful” abuse directed at England’s and Chelsea’s Karen Carney following her team’s last-16 Champions League win over Fiorentina.

The winger posted screenshots of messages received which included rape threats, death threats and wishing she got cancer.

“We talk to them all the time because my players get that kind of abuse all the time, whether it’s racist, sexist or homophobic,” Neville said. “They get that kind of abuse. Nothing gets done about it, but we experienced it earlier in the season.

“It’s not going away. I think there’s some fantastic campaigns, initiatives, messaging that goes out, particularly in the Premier League, through the FA, about trying to stamp out racism. And at times you feel as if you’re making inroads and then you get probably a massive reminder that actually we’re probably not.

“It’s a problem not just in football. It’s a problem in society but football now is at the forefront of everybody’s minds in terms of we’ve got the power to do something about it. I think the football community will. I think we try but it’s getting to the point now where I think we need to make a real strong message, and I say to every single footballer out there, and to every club, and to the PFA: why don’t we make a big stand? Come off social media. Boycott all social media now and see if that makes a big enough impact.”

Twitter said in a statement: “We’re fully aware of and share the concerns surrounding online racist abuse towards certain footballers in the UK over recent days.

“We strongly condemn this unacceptable behaviour and have now permanently suspended a series of accounts for violating our Hateful Conduct Policy. We’re proactively monitoring the conversation online and will continue taking robust action on any account which violates our rules. This is a societal issue and requires a societal response.

“This is why we maintain a dialogue with both the PFA and Kick It Out and are committed to working together to address abusive online and racist behaviour acrossthe industry. We continue to liaise closely with our partners to identify meaningful solutions to this unacceptable behaviour — both offline and on.”


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