EFL bosses have united in their condemnation of ‘mindless idiots’ who direct racist abuse at players and staff on social media after another vile attack on a player.
Rick Parry has spoken out after Bolton Wanderers’ striker, Elias Kachunga, was targeted on Instagram after his club’s League One 0-0 draw with Burton Albion on Monday.
The EFL chief, who said the comments directed at Kachunga were ‘sickening’, has been joined by the Bolton and Burton chairmen.
Bolton striker Elias Kachunga was targeted on his Instagram account after the League One fixture with Burton Albion, the matter has now been referred to the police
Kachunga, 29, is a former Germany youth international and has one senior cap for DR Congo. He joined Bolton last month, signing a two-year contract.
As well as his disgust at the perpetrators of abuse, Parry believes social media companies have the power to implement the changes necessary to combat the problem.
EFL chairman Rick Parry has spoken out against abuse of footballers
“In a week when the shortcomings of social media platforms have been highlighted once again, it is sickening to see the vitriolic racist abuse directed at Bolton Wanderers’ Elias Kachunga, said the EFL chairman.
“The EFL stands together with Elias, Bolton Wanderers and all those who continue to be targeted by these mindless idiots and we will continue to work proactively as we attempt to remove this unacceptable behaviour and protect our people.’
Earlier this week, former players, the FA and the Professional Footballers’ Association gave evidence to two select committees to highlight the ongoing problem of racism online.
The football authorities highlighted a lack of action from social media companies, like Instagram and Twitter, in tackling the problem,
Kachunga, a DR Cong international, joined Bolton a month ago on a two-year deal
Ex-West Ham and QPR defender Anton Ferdinand Anton Ferdinand challenged social media companies to take action over racist abuse before a high-profile footballer – or one of their family – commits suicide because of online persecution.
While his brother, Rio, warned that racism was making a comeback in the national game.
As well as more action from the social media companies, football authorities want the Government’s draft Online Harms Bill to be amended to make it harder for abusers to send vile messages anonymously.
The FA accused the big tech firms of putting profit before tackling abuse.
Parry added: “There are clearly multiple solutions required to fix the social media challenge we currently face and following football’s collective call to strengthen the draft of the Online Safety Bill earlier today, we once again have to remind the platforms that they have a responsibility and the power to implement the changes required.”
Football authorities and former players called on slocial media companies todo more to tackle anuse on their platforms at two Parliamentary hearings this week
Bolton have referred the comments aimed at Kachunga to the police.
Meanwhile, Bolton chairman Sharon Brittan said she was ‘sickened to the core’ by the abuse aimed at Kachunga and vowed she will be ‘relentless’ in ensuring the perpetrator is identified.
Brittan said: “Racism and hatred have no place at all in society and I was sickened to the core on hearing this disgusting abuse directed at one of our players.
“I have spoken with Elias and his partner and they are understandably upset by these messages.
“We as a Club stand firm in saying that racism and discrimination will not be tolerated and we have reported this to the Police and relevant authorities. I have also spoken with the EFL today regarding future steps we can take together to eradicate this hatred from our game.
“I will be relentless in making sure that everything is done to help identify and prosecute the perpetrator.’
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Bolton’s opponents, Burton, tweeted their support. Burton has taken a tough line on abusive behaviour this season. Chairman Ben Robinson has made clear that racist or homophobic behaviour will result in supporters being banned.
‘It is totally unacceptable,’ Robinson said. ‘Despite all of the projects and initiatives we still see pockets of it.’
He agrees that tackling abuse online will require the government to create a tough legal framework to hold companies to account.
The abuse of Kachunga comes as the PFA has warned the frequency of abuse is increasing.
In some of the most recent – and abhorrent cases – abuse was sent to Bukayo Saka, Marcus Rashford and Jadon Sancho on social media after they missed penalties in the Euro 2020 final defeat by Italy this summer.
Boris Johnson and Prince William condemned the mindless racists who bombarded the footballers with monkey, gorilla and banana emojis.
At the Home Affairs Select Committee this week, Katy Minshall, head of UK public policy and philanthropy at Twitter, told the committee: ‘We’ve got to a place where by the end of last season about 95 per cent of the abusive posts we were taking down using machine learning.
‘Beyond that, we have partnerships with the clubs, the Football Association, the Premier League and others so that anything that doesn’t get detected they are able to report it directly to our enforcement teams.
While, Tara Hopkins, director of public policy EMEA at Instagram, also said 95 per cent of hateful content was proactively removed.