Football, Racism and the Failures of Twitter – Labour Article
Once again, English football is confronted with the issue of racism. Axel Tuanzebe and Anthony Martial (two of Manchester United’s young talents) were targeted on their Instagram and Twitter accounts by racist football fans after a defeat to Sheffield United.
In a series of tweets, Manchester United’s official account and the players from the first team have shown solidarity with Martial and Tuanzebe, stating that the club is ‘United Against Racism’. The show of support by colleagues and friends is expected, and I assume a comfort to the two young men. However, it will not prevent it from happening again.
The campaign group ‘Kick It Out’ reported that the 2019/20 season saw a shocking increase of 53% in the number of racial abuse incidents being reported in the professional game. Recent high profile incidents have seen an official in a UEFA Champions League match, Millwall fans, and now fans on Twitter and Instagram, fail to show basic human decency. The problem is widespread in football with many other incidents taking place across the football pyramid. So, how is it being approached?
The Premier League’s ‘No Room for Racism’ programme runs educational talks. It is for children from as early as primary school to promote racial equality and education as a core part of not just sport but of life. Amidst the Covid-19 pandemic, these resources have been made available online. Educating children is a positive step in the fight against racism within sports. Nurturing compassion and respect in the younger generation will yield results in the future. However, the questions of how to protect current players and how to address the entrenched racism of fans who are often in the older generations is a harder issue.
On the Millwall incident, the Daily Mail reported that the FA had launched an investigation. However, the crucial question was whether the ‘booing of players was a protest or discrimination’. When we have British mainstream media debating the framework of what was clearly a racist incident, it is hardly surprising that the idiots who can hide behind a Twitter handle feel confident enough to post vile, racist comments.
Over a year ago, another United player found themselves in this situation. Paul Pogba received abuse on Twitter. It supposedly sparked a big conversation at Twitter in conjunction with ‘Kick It Out’. However, Twitter’s most recent action reports suggest that there were over six million reports against accounts for hateful conduct, of this only 10 % were actioned. Most of these reports will not relate to football, but it is clear that Twitter as a company is not taking enough action to cultivate a better environment on their site.
Harry Maguire, the Manchester United captain, suggested that Twitter should require accounts to provide ID when signing up to the platform. This has raised concerns about the use of data, and protection for those using Twitter as a whistleblowing forum. However, principally I am behind the idea.
Free speech does not mean freedom from consequence. Education is paramount and the work of ‘Kick It Out’ is highly commendable. But, in the meantime, social media platforms must step up. They should create systems where racists cannot hide behind a screen and be free of consequences.
Moreover, it is imperative that British society continues to confront its approach to race. We need to recognise that racism is not caused by a few bad apples. Rather, racism in sport is the product of insufficient education, right-wing media dominance, and the idea that it is okay to treat professional sportspeople with no respect because they had a bad performance.
Written by Senior Labour Writer, Henry McKeever
Point of Information
Racism in football has no place in the modern game – A Liberal Response
As a football fan myself, I was truly shocked to hear about the attack on the two Manchester United players. Having read Henry’s article, I strongly support his call to action for social media platforms to do more.
Groups such as ‘Kick it Out’ are doing their best to prevent racial abuse of footballers, but they cannot do it all on their own. My biggest worry is that this problem goes beyond the racial aspect of it. I’m sure many other football fans can agree that they’ve shouted at the TV when they concede a goal through a silly mistake made by one of their favourite team’s player.
We are forgetting that these people are simply doing their job to the best of their ability. Nobody would ever consider shouting at a work colleague in the office if they forgot to send you a file you asked for. In addition, I believe that very few people would resort to social media to take it out on them.
As a society, we are forgetting that although these footballers are paid to be world-class, they can also make mistakes. If we don’t get to the root of abusing footballers of any race, I believe it will be very difficult to stop racism from entering the game we love.
Written by Senior Liberal Writer, Charlie Papamichael
Racism needs to be stamped out – A Conservative Response
I could not agree more with Henry and Charlie. Social media platforms do indeed need to implement further regulations when it comes to monitoring posts. Unfortunately, racism and other forms of abuse will always exist in society and it is incredibly difficult to stamp out. I was equally upset when I heard the shocking news about the Manchester United and Chelsea players.
I do not understand how people have the urge to write such hateful messages. It is frankly sickening. Both Henry and Charlie have stated that organisations such as ‘Kick It Out’ are doing their best with the resources at their disposal. I believe that education should go further. The UK government should ensure that future generations are not affected. Through perhaps greater education or compulsory training upon employment which should be refreshed every so often. Unfortunately, racism isn’t restricted simply to football, it goes way beyond that.
Written by Senior Conservative Writer, Max Jablonowski
I am entering the third year of a BA in History and Ancient History at the University of Exeter. I have a fascination with the past otherwise and you would hope so, otherwise I may have chosen the wrong degree. But, writing for POI gives me the opportunity to talk politics which is something I simply can’t avoid.
I am a second year student currently reading International Relations and Modern Languages at the University of Exeter.
I am Max Jablonowski, a second year student studying French and Politics at the University of Exeter, and I am about to go on my year abroad to Paris to complete two internships. I was Academic Events Manager of the Politics Society in Exeter and I was privileged enough to organize events such as Question Time, co-host the 2019 General Election Hustings with MWEXE and host the Rt. Hon. James Brokenshire MP, the current Minister of State for Security.