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Liverpool have called for “the strongest possible preventative measures” to be taken over racist abuse on social media after Trent Alexander-Arnold, Naby Keita and Sadio Mane were targeted.
Reds defender Alexander-Arnold, midfielder Keita and forward Mane were sent racist emojis and comments via Instagram following Tuesday night’s Champions League quarter-final first-leg loss to Real Madrid.
Liverpool said in a statement on Wednesday: “Once again we are sadly discussing abhorrent racial abuse the morning after a football game. It is utterly unacceptable and it has to stop.
“LFC condemns all forms of discrimination and we continue to work with our inclusion partners through our Red Together initiative to campaign against it.
“As a club, we will offer our players any and all support that they may require. We will also work with the relevant authorities to identify and, if possible, prosecute those responsible.
“We know that this will not be enough until the strongest possible preventative measures are taken by social media platforms and the regulatory bodies which govern them.
“The current situation cannot be allowed to continue and it is incumbent on all of us to ensure that it does not.”
A spokesperson for Facebook, the company which owns Instagram, said: “The abuse directed towards these footballers is abhorrent.
“We do not want it on Instagram and we swiftly removed a number of comments and accounts that broke our rules. We recently announced tougher measures to tackle this behaviour and we are committed to doing everything we can to fight hate and racism on our platforms.”
Instagram in February announced new measures, including removing accounts, to tackle online abuse.
Alexander-Arnold, Keita and Mane are only the latest footballers to be targeted.
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The likes of Marcus Rashford, Anthony Martial and Fred at Manchester United, Chelsea’s Reece James and Borussia Dortmund’s England international Jude Bellingham have all been subjected to racist abuse on social media this year.
Arsenal forward Willian, too, has been targeted online – receiving several racist and abusive messages aimed at him and his family.
The Gunners face a Europa League clash with Slavia Prague on Thursday night – with the Czech side having defender Ondrej Kudela suspended for one game as UEFA investigate allegations that he racially abused Rangers’ Glen Kamara in the previous round.
Willian admits the abuse he and his family have suffered has sometimes left him afraid to check his accounts, which he has considered deleting.
“Yes. Sometimes, to be honest,” he replied when asked if he was afraid to look at his phone.
“We are human. I want to understand who these people think they are to come to speak like that to us.
“We are professional. We do the best to help the team, we always want to win, we never want to lose.
“But we have our bad days, sometimes we are not feeling good, we have problems like everybody has, personal problems, families.
“So sometimes you are not on a good day, you have a bad day and they come and say these kind of words that hurt you. That’s why we want to stop it. Enough is enough.
“Straight away, I want to delete my social media accounts. I have seen some people are deleting their social media because of racism and the abuse.
“If they want to criticise me, it’s no problem, I always accept that. But when they come to attack your family with those words that I cannot say here, that hurts. That really affects me. It’s a big problem.”
The 32-year-old also called on social media companies to protect users from such abuse after Arsenal launched their own initiative last week.
“It was very difficult for me because I have a lot of friends on my phone and I was seeing a lot of horrible words against my family, for example,” he added.
“After that, I say to myself that enough is enough. You have to try something to take action against racism, online abuse, and I am proud because the club are doing that. They are helping us a lot. I will never stop my fight against racism.
“I think we have to find a way to change the profile of social media. I think if people want to have Instagram, Twitter, Facebook, they need to put their ID, passport or whatever.
“And then when these things happen, we can catch them, the authorities can catch them. That’s the action that we want.”
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