Some 71% of soccer supporters polled in a Kick It Out survey said that they had seen racist comments directed at players on social media last year. In response, the organization has decided to join forces with Facebook for its "Take A Stand" campaign, encouraging everyone in the business of soccer to actively fight against racism and discrimination in the sport.
"Most football fans will have witnessed some form of discrimination in football -- on the terraces, in dressing rooms or on social media -- but more needs to be done to move from awareness to action," explains a Kick It Out news release.
While the vast majority of soccer fans (84%) said that they would be able to recognize racist or discriminatory comments made by other supporters during a match, almost one in five said that they would be unlikely to report them in the future. In light of these observations, the organization has decided to provide supporters with new tools to encourage them to take action.
Kick It Out announced that Facebook will soon roll out a new automated messaging service allowing supporters to report any inappropriate behavior witnessed during a match to the organization. The Silicon Valley tech giant is also setting up a phone number (07432 140 310) that fans can message on WhatsApp to stay up to date on current initiatives in the UK to help stamp out discrimination in the world of soccer.
For its part, Twitter has also committed to taking proactive action against hateful content by delivering training sessions with football clubs and police authorities.
Hiding behind social media
"Facebook and Instagram are where fans come to connect directly with their favourite players, teams and other fans and we want that to do without discrimination or abuse. We can all do something to take a stand against hate and promote a more inclusive society," said Steve Hatch, Facebook's Vice President for Northern Europe.
The "Take a Stand" campaign lands a few months after the Sheffield United striker, David McGoldrick revealed that he had been the target of racist insults on social media. "2020 and this is life," the player wrote in a post showing a screen grab of an insulting private message he received following Sheffield United's victory over Chelsea.
As a club we will support David McGoldrick and will do all we can to find the perpetrator of this disgusting message.— Sheffield United (@SheffieldUnited) July 13, 2020
We will work with the relevant authorities to ensure the person behind this post is brought to justice.
This cannot continue. Something needs to change. pic.twitter.com/z94kfClCCe
The Crystal Palace striker, Wilfried Zaha has also been subjected to racist and insulting comments. A 12-year-old boy was arrested in July this year by West Midlands Police after a series of hateful messages were sent to the Ivorian player.
"People need to understand that, whatever your age, that your behaviour and your words come with consequences and you cannot hide behind social media," Wilfried Zaha said on social media.