The dark cloud of alleged racist abuse of footballers on social media has hung over the sport for most of this season.
Manchester United’s Marcus Rashford, Chelsea’s Reece James and West Brom’s Romaine Sawyers are just a few who have fallen under the shadow of a problem that last week passed over the Emirates Stadium.
Last week, three separate incidents involving alleged hateful messages towards Arsenal players made headlines.
First an investigation revealed Granit Xhaka had been targeted after his red card against Burnley before Eddie Nketiah was the victim of racist abuse in the build up to the Gunners’ Europa League Round of 32 clash with Benfica, with Willian also posting screenshots of messages he said he had received on his Instagram after the game with the caption: “Something needs to change!”
As images of the abuse quickly circulated the internet the reaction was largely for one of shock. However, for Troy Townsend, the Head of Development at Kick It Out, English football’s equality and inclusion organisation, it was a depressingly familiar story.
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“No different to the norm, unfortunately,” he tells football.london in reaction to the incidents. “It’s more of the same. I’m expecting the abuse now, knowing that it’s going to happen.
“I just feel sorry for every player and their family members that it happens because it’s just not right and it should be dealt with more proactively and positively than what it is at the moment that’s for sure.”
LONDON, ENGLAND – NOVEMBER 05: Joe Willock and Eddie Nketiah of Arsenal celebrate following their team’s second goal, an own goal by Sheriff Sinyan of Molde FK (not pictured) during the UEFA Europa League Group B stage match between Arsenal FC and Molde FK at Emirates Stadium on November 05, 2020 in London, England. Sporting stadiums around the UK remain under…