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Twitter responds to growing racism problem in football

Twitter responds to growing racism problem in football
© Reuters
The online platform has been urged to tackle the issue of racist abuse by Kick it Out and the PFA.

Twitter says it has taken action on more than 700 examples of "hateful conduct" in the past two weeks following several cases of racist abuse involving Premier League footballers.

Manchester United players Paul Pogba and Marcus Rashford and Chelsea duo Tammy Abraham and Kurt Zouma are among those who have been targeted.

The social media platform has issued a statement in which it details meetings with "directly affected" clubs, the Professional Footballers' Association and Kick it Out in an attempt to "tackle the issue collectively".

Twitter also vowed to "continue to take swift action" and that such "vile content has no place on our service. The online service insists that it wants to "play our part in curbing this unacceptable behaviour".

Twitter has met with Kick It Out to put measures in place to start to tackle the racism problem (Steve Paston/PA)

"In the past two weeks, we have taken action on more than 700 examples of abuse and hateful conduct related to UK football," said Twitter in a statement.

"We will continue to take swift action on the minority that try to undermine the conversation for the majority. In that same time, we have met with the Professional Footballers' Association, Kick It Out and directly affected football clubs, and agreed a number of proactive measures to tackle this issue collectively.

"Working with the PFA, we will participate in their player training programme, and will be joining a series of educational sessions with its membership to support the PFA's ambition to tackle the issue.

"Working with Kick It Out, we will continue our working relationship with UK policing to further brief them and provide training on our policies, procedures and dedicated 24/7 reporting channels for law enforcement.

"To be clear, this behaviour does not reflect the vast majority of fans who use Twitter to participate in vibrant conversations around football in the UK. We have spent years forging strong partnerships with clubs, organisations and supporters and deeply value the relationships."

Manchester United manager Ole Gunnar Solskjaer and Chelsea head coach Frank Lampard, whose players have been the target of the recent abuse, have been among those asking for social media companies to do more to curb racist behaviour on their platforms.

In response to the meeting with Twitter, Kick it Out said it had agreed a number of future steps to begin tackling the problem, which included a meeting with police and the Crown Prosecution Service to "develop an efficient approach to identifying and punishing" offenders.

It also said it would invite football bodies, including the Football Association, the Premier League and EFL to agree a "collective action plan", and said that Twitter would help with its campaigning around the issue.

"Kick It Out met with Twitter last week to discuss a number of continuing issues on their platform, relating to football – including abuse of professional players, the wider scale of online abuse, reporting procedures and legal enforcement of online hate crime," said a statement.

"Online discrimination will not be resolved overnight, but we have collectively agreed on actions as a first step to ensure the issue is tackled effectively.

"Kick It Out will continue to take a lead in bringing the football authorities and the legal system together to tackle online abuse.

"But what the public need most is Twitter to show decisive leadership and deliver concrete action for change – we expect to see that in the weeks and months ahead."

Meanwhile, Anderlecht boss Vincent Kompany has called for more diversity among football institutions following what he called the "disgraceful" abuse suffered by Romelu Lukaku at the weekend.

Vincent Kompany has condemned the racist abuse suffered by Romelu Lukaku on Sunday (Richard Sellers/PA)

Lukaku, a former team-mate of Kompany's for Belgium, was subjected to monkey chants by Cagliari supporters as he prepared to take a penalty for his new club Inter Milan.

"I always take it much further. Romelu is obviously a victim of something disgraceful that happened not just in football, but also in society," the former Manchester City captain told Sky Sports News.

"Real racism lies in the fact that none of these institutions have representatives that can actually understand what Romelu is going through.

"On boards at UEFA and in England and Italy and most places there is a problem with diversity in places of power and in board rooms.

"If you don't have that diversity then you can't have the right decisions in terms of sanctions, it's as simple as that."

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Romelu Lukaku celebrates scoring for Inter Milan on August 26, 2019
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