Soccer: Premier League launches reporting system for online abuse

LONDON (Reuters) - Players, managers and coaching staff will be able to flag up serious discriminatory online abuse through a dedicated reporting system, the Premier League announced on Wednesday.

FILE PHOTO: Soccer Football - Premier League - Manchester United v Sheffield United - Old Trafford, Manchester, Britain - June 24, 2020 General view of a match ball before the match, as play resumes behind closed doors following the outbreak of the coronavirus disease (COVID-19) Martin Rickett/Pool via REUTERS /File Photo

Targetting direct messages received on social media platforms, the Premier League says the central rapid response reporting system could lead to legal action where appropriate.

“Online discriminatory abuse is unacceptable in any walk of life and tackling this issue must be a priority,” Premier League Chief Executive Richard Masters said on Wednesday.

“There are too many instances of footballers and their families receiving appalling discriminatory messages; nobody should have to deal with this.”

Each case will be will be reviewed, reported to the relevant social media company and investigated.

Masters highlighted the racist abuse recently received online by former Arsenal and England striker Ian Wright, saying the new system will help track down the perpetrator.

“The Premier League strongly condemns this deeply offensive behaviour. We immediately implemented our reporting system and will support Ian in any endeavour to bring the offenders to justice,” Masters said.

“The Premier League will not tolerate discriminatory behaviour in any form and we, alongside The FA, EFL, PFA and LMA will continue to challenge major social media companies that fail to do enough to block offensive discriminatory material and identify and ban offenders from their platforms.”

The growth of social media has fuelled discriminatory abuse of footballers in recent years.

Manchester United’s Marcus Rashford and Paul Pogba have both been victims while Watford’s Troy Deeney claims he was ignored when he reported monkey emojis directed at him on social media.

Former Manchester United player and now Sky Sports pundit Gary Neville last year urged players to boycott social media.

Since the restart of the Premier League this month, players have shown strong support for the Black Lives Matter campaign.

Reporting by Martyn Herman; Editing by Toby Davis