Kyle Walker-Peters says more must be done to prevent racist abuse online.
Southampton demanded action from social media platforms after the police were called, following online abuse of the defender.
The full-back was targeted with a series of offensive responses, including a monkey emoji, on an Instagram post after Sunday’s 0-0 Premier League draw at Manchester United.
The term racist was used in reference to United’s substitute Alejandro Garnacho, who was left writhing in pain after a challenge by the Saints player late in the game.
Walker Peters took to Instagram and said: “Proud of a point narrowly won in a tough game at Old Trafford. Especially as we feel we could have got more.
“It was a great effort from everyone. Thank you to the Travel Supporters especially who made the trip for helping move us forward.
“On a personal level, the racial abuse I received is something no player or anyone should be subjected to.
“We need to be better, and that’s bigger than just football. More needs to be done to prevent this from happening again and again.
Thank you to everyone who has sent messages of support since then, and I appreciate each and every one of you.
“Finally, for @garnacho7, I would never intend to injure a fellow professional. I wish you a speedy recovery and hope to see you back in action as soon as possible.”
An official statement from the Saints read: “In February 2021, the club issued a statement regarding one of our young players being subjected to hateful racial abuse following a match against Manchester United.
“More than two years later, we find ourselves in the exact same situation: we are disgusted and disappointed by the behavior of those who drag themselves online to mistreat gamers because of their skin color.
“Equally frustrating is the lack of meaningful action in these two years of social media platforms allowing such hatred to multiply and fester.
“As we’ve said before, Southampton Football Club fights every day to remove these people from our sport and society in order to protect our players, staff, Southampton fans and football fans around the world who recognize and celebrate the diversity that makes football special.
“We have passed the messages concerned to Hampshire Police in line with our normal operations when dealing with these cases.
We have also reported these posts to the respective social media platforms.
“We can only hope that they finally pay attention to what remains a huge problem and that we don’t find ourselves repeating those words in another couple of years.”
Southampton’s position was supported by the Football Association.
A statement on the FA’s official Twitter account read: “We strongly condemn the online racist abuse that continues to be directed against players across our game.
“We urge social media companies and authorities to take the strongest possible action and we will not stop challenging this issue until concrete changes are made.”
Meta, who owns Instagram, is in contact with Southampton about the matter and has removed the offensive comments from Walker Peters’ account.
A spokesperson for the company said: “We don’t want racial abuse on Instagram, and we’ve removed a number of comments for breaching our rules.
Over the past few years we’ve launched several ways to help protect people from having to experience abuse in the first place, including a Hidden Words feature that lets people filter out abusive comments and direct messages – and we’ve recently started turning this on by default for people with Creator accounts.
“This is not going to fix one thing overnight, but we will continue to work to help protect our community from abuse and respond to the right legal requests to support police investigations.”
However, anti-discrimination organization Kick It Out urged social media companies to press ahead in the fight against racist abuse.
A statement read: “We are horrified to hear about reports of internet abuse following Southampton’s Premier League match at Manchester United this weekend.
“Last month, we reiterated our call for social media companies and the government to move quickly to introduce meaningful reforms that protect those who play, watch and work at football. However, the silence from these platforms remains deafening.
“Social media companies must urgently make meaningful reforms to protect people online, including the default option for hate filters is ‘on’, which means people only see this content if they turn the filter off. We know that Social media companies have the technology to introduce these measures, however, and seem unwilling to act.Until they do, the sad truth is that online abuse will continue to run unchecked through the game.
“Kick It Out will continue to work closely with our partners across football to provide support for victims of discrimination and to ensure perpetrators are held accountable for their actions.”
Meanwhile, Hampshire Police have confirmed they have been asked to investigate a complaint from the Saints.
A club spokesperson said: “We are working with Southampton Football Club following a report of racial abuse directed at a player after their match against Manchester United. We are in contact with the club and inquiries about this are ongoing.”
Southampton took similar action in February 2021 after then 19-year-old midfielder Alex Jankowitz received abusive messages online after being sent off on his Premier League debut in a 9-0 defeat at the hands of United.
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