Raheem Sterling: Manchester City forward racially abused after Champions League

Manchester City and England forward Raheem Sterling was racially abused on Instagram less than 48 hours after English football’s social media boycott came to an end.

The abuse came in the wake of City’s Champions League semi-final victory over Paris St Germain.

A spokesperson for Facebook, which owns Instagram, said: “The racist abuse sent to Raheem Sterling is unacceptable and we do not want it on Instagram.

“We have removed the comment and taken action against the account that posted it.

“As part of our ongoing work in this space, we’ll soon be rolling out new tools to help prevent people seeing abusive messages from strangers.

“No single thing will fix this challenge overnight but we’re committed to doing what we can to keep our community safe from abuse.”

Sterling has been the target of abuse on social media previously.

A study commissioned by the Professional Footballers’ Association published last October looked at social media posts directed towards 44 players during the ‘Project Restart’ period of last season. It found more than 3,000 explicitly abusive messages were directed at those players publicly via Twitter, with 50 per cent of those messages aimed at just three players – Adebayo Akinfenwa, Wilfried Zaha and Sterling.

Sterling said at the time: “I don’t know how many times I need to say this, but football and the social media platforms need to step up, show real leadership and take proper action in tackling online abuse.

“The technology is there to make a difference, but I’m increasingly questioning if there is the will.”

On-loan Stoke player Rabbi Matondo has also been the target of abuse online since the boycott ended at 11.59pm on Monday night, having started at 3pm on April 30.

Matondo, who is with the Potters on loan from German side Schalke, wrote on Twitter: “Good to see the boycott changed nothing @instagram”.

A Stoke spokesperson said: “The club is aware of the disgusting racial abuse Rabbi Matondo received on social media overnight and will do everything we can to help the authorities bring the perpetrator to justice.

“We will not tolerate behaviour of this nature – there is no place in society for it and we will be reporting the offending post in line with the agreed procedure the EFL has in place.”

Swansea’s Morgan Whittaker was targeted during the boycott, becoming the fourth player from the Championship club to be abused since February.

Swansea staged their own week-long social media blackout in early April, which was joined by fellow second-tier club Birmingham.

Social media boycott sent ‘powerful and united message’

The Football Association has called on the Government to introduce legislation to compel social media companies to do more to stop online abuse following the sport community’s powerful and united four-day boycott.

Reaction to the four-day social media boycott to tackle online abuse and discrimination – which ended at midnight – has continued to pour in with Kick It Out chief executive Tony Burnett also appearing on Sky Sports News to lay out what he wants to see happen next.

Kick It Out’s four key social media demands

  • Improved prevention – to help stop online abuse in the first place
  • Account verification – to deter people from writing hateful comments while anonymous
  • Proper punishments – current punishments for online abuse are insufficient
  • Government intervention – fast-track the Online Harms Bill through Parliament

Former West Ham, Sunderland and Queens Park Rangers defender Anton Ferdinand also revealed to Sky Sports News that he is set for a meeting with the social media giants where the boycott will be discussed and what steps will be taken next to fight online abuse.

An FA statement, also posted by England captain Harry Kane, said the boycott of social media was to “demonstrate our collective anger. But this won’t eradicate abuse on its own.

“We will continue to challenge social media companies to make changes to their platforms, urge Government to introduce strong legislation quickly and request that individuals call out and report online abuse when they see it.”

Hate Won’t Stop Us

Sky Sports is committed to making skysports.com and our channels on social media platforms a place for comment and debate that is free of abuse, hate and profanity.

For more information, please visit: www.skysports.com/hatewontstopus

If you see a reply to Sky Sports posts and/or content with an expression of hate on the basis of race, colour, gender, nationality, ethnicity, disability, religion, sexuality, age or class please copy the URL to the hateful post or screengrab it and email us here.

Kick It Out reporting racism

Online Reporting Form | Kick It Out

Kick It Out is football’s equality and inclusion organisation – working throughout the football, educational and community sectors to challenge discrimination, encourage inclusive practices and campaign for positive change.

www.kickitout.org

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