Brighton & Hove Albion boss Hope Powell says that anyone abusing footballers on social media should be prosecuted and made an example of.
The former England manager spoke out after a number of recent incidents involving players being the victims of online abuse.
Manchester United striker Lauren James has been targeted on Instagram, a week after her brother – Chelsea’s Reece James – was also abused.
“It’s a shame it’s becoming an issue” said Powell when speaking in Brighton & Hove Albion’s midweek press conference in which FAWSL Full-Time were present.
“Something has to be done about it. These people need to be prosecuted and made an example of. It’s an issue that rightly so, is unacceptable.”
United’s James, 19, has called the abuse that she received on Instagram ‘boring’. She also added in a post “Instagram on a real need to do something about it or they will lose so many individuals on their platform.
Too easy for some kid to press a few emojis in order to try and grab some attention.
Too much talk around these days, and nothing ever gets done. Usual story.”
Powell’s club, Brighton & Hove Albion, have tried to educate players about social media and the dangers surrounding it.
She said “We do a lot of education around it. We try and support the players. The club try and do everything they can to educate players.
“It’s a good tool when used well but unfortunately, not such a good tool when people abuse it.”
Facebook, one the biggest social media platforms – which also owns Instagram, where some of the abuse has happened – says it is working with players, clubs, and the footballing authorities to tackle the issue. It recently said “There is no place for racism on Instagram and we are committed to removing it when we find it.”
The Football Association have today joined forces with other football bodies in sending an open letter to Facebook and Twitter requesting that they go much further to combat the problem.
They have asked Facebook and Twitter to accept responsibility for preventing abuse from appearing on their platforms and to go further by taking action so that:
- Messages and posts should are filtered and blocked before being sent or posted if they contain racist or discriminatory material
- They operate robust, transparent, and swift measures to take down abusive material if it does get into circulation
- All users are subject to an improved verification process that (only if required by law enforcement) allows for accurate identification of the person behind the account. Steps should also be taken to stop a user that has sent abuse previously from re-registering an account
- Their platforms actively and expeditiously assist the investigating authorities in identifying the originators of illegal discriminatory material
The letter was signed by Mark Bullingham (CEO, The FA), Richard Masters (Chief Executive, Premier League), Trevor Birch (CEO, EFL), Kelly Simmons (Director of the women’s professional game), Gordon Taylor OBE (CEO, PFA), Richard Bevan (Chief Executive, LMA), Mike Riley (Managing director, PGMOL) and Sanjay Bhandari (Chair, Kick It Out).
Article author: Matthew Ward