Black footballers must continue to represent themselves with pride online and it should be up to social media companies to “get their house in order”, according to Darren Lewis.
This week has seen multiple incidents of racist abuse directed at black footballers online, including Manchester United stars Marcus Rashford, Anthony Martial, and Axel Tuanzebe.
Chelsea defender Reece James and West Brom’s Romaine Sawyers have also been targeted in recent days.
In his response on Saturday, Rashford called the abuse “humanity and social media at its worst” and refused to share screenshots as “it would be irresponsible to do so”.
Reflecting on all of the recent incidents, football writer Lewis told the Super Sunday Matchday show: “Victim shaming is never the answer. It should not be incumbent on black men to come off social media because they are receiving racist abuse.
Humanity and social media at its worst. Yes I’m a black man and I live every day proud that I am. No one, or no one comment, is going to make me feel any different. So sorry if you were looking for a strong reaction, you’re just simply not going to get it here 👊🏾
— Marcus Rashford MBE (@MarcusRashford) January 30, 2021
“The onus should be on the social media companies to get their house in order. If they can’t, then the footballers need to take action and we must support that action in any way we can.
“The answer is action. We’ve done a lot of talking for a number of years and it’s got us nowhere.
“I say, create the legal framework to be able to punish people. It might be harsh and it might be, in some cases, a sledgehammer to crack a nut, but unless we do that, we are going to go around in circles.
“I would never in a million years suggest black footballers should come off social media. They should stay on, they should be proud to represent themselves and continue doing the work they’re doing and continue just existing.
“This is our life. To exist, we have to put up with that kind of thing. We should not have to keep justifying our existence day after day, week after week.”
Former Crystal Palace star and Republic of Ireland international Clinton Morrison added: “Black footballers, black people in the media and anyone else, we are not going anywhere.
“Look at the good stuff Marcus Rashford is doing [on social media] and how many tweets he sends out. Why should they stop going on there because of the colour of their skin?
“If they have to come off, then everyone should come off.
“I’m sick and tired of it. We have to talk about it because we have to identify it. All the time we keep talking about the same thing.”
The Football Association has vowed to work with the Government and social media platforms to eradicate racism from the game.
A statement released on the FA’s official Twitter account on Saturday said: “We are united with all of football in our abhorrence of any racist abuse. This is not acceptable in any part of society.
“We will continue to work with the rest of the game, the government and social media platforms to remove this – and all elements of – discrimination from our sport.”
A spokesperson for Facebook, who own Instagram, told Sky Sports News: “There is no place for racism on Instagram and we are committed to removing it when we find it.
“We have taken action in this case by removing accounts and comments and are continuing to investigate.
“We know there is more to do and we will continue to work closely with clubs, players and football authorities to investigate instances of discrimination and collectively tackle this issue.”
A Twitter spokesperson said they have clear policies on abusive behaviour and hateful conduct and take action when they identify violations.
In a statement, Twitter added: “Racist behaviour has no place on our service and when we identify accounts that violate any of the Twitter Rules, we take enforcement action.”
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