Southampton are in contact with the police after defender Kyle Walker-Peters received racist abuse on social media following their goalless draw with Manchester United, the Premier League club said on Monday.
Walker-Peters was targeted online after his challenge on United’s Alejandro Garnacho at Old Trafford on Sunday, forcing manager Erik ten Hag into withdrawing his second-half substitute.
Garnacho, who has four goals and four assists this season, later left Old Trafford on crutches with Ten Hag confirming he had twisted his ankle.
“In February 2021 the club made a statement about one of our young players receiving abhorrent racial abuse following a match against Manchester United,” Southampton said in a statement.
“More than two years on, we find ourselves in the exact same position: disgusted and disappointed in the behaviour of those online who lower themselves to abusing players for the colour of their skin.
“What is equally frustrating is the lack of meaningful action in those two years from the social media platforms who allow such hatred to breed and fester.”
Southampton said the messages have been forwarded to Hampshire Police while they have also reported the posts to the social media platforms.
“We can only hope that they finally pay attention to what continues to be a major problem and that we do not find ourselves repeating these words in another two years time,” the club added.
Meta, which owns Instagram, said they have been in touch with the club and removed a number of comments from the platform for breaking their rules.
“Over the last few years, we’ve launched several ways to help protect people from having to experience abuse in the first place, including our Hidden Words feature which lets people filter offensive comments and DMs,” a Meta spokesperson said.
“We recently started turning this on by default for people with creator accounts. No one thing will fix this overnight, but we’ll continue to work to help protect our community from abuse and respond to valid legal requests to support police investigations.”
The abuse was also condemned by the English Football Association and the Premier League.
“No one should have to face abuse of this kind. We are supporting Southampton with their investigations,” the league said.
Meanwhile a landmark ruling has banned a 24-year-old man from every stadium in the country for racially abusing the Brentford striker Ivan Toney on social media.
The Premier League, working with the club, player and the police, investigated the message which was treated as a hate crime and was traced to a suspect in the North Shields area of the UK.
Brentford welcomed the resolution of the case, adding:
“Court appearances set a strong precedent for anyone else who commits hate crimes and it is our hope that sentences increase in severity until this sort of crime is eradicated. Ivan Toney has been subject to sickening racist abuse on a regular basis, and we want to see tough action taken against anyone found guilty of such abuse.”
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