Manchester United put out a statement expressing “disgust” after Axel Tuanzebe (pictured) was racially abused on social media by “mindless idiots” after Wednesday’s 2-1 defeat at home to Sheffield United. Anthony Martial, who like Tuanzebe played against the Blades, was also targeted with the same type of abuse.
In a statement, the club said:
Everyone at Manchester United is disgusted by the racial abuse received by players via social media after last night’s game.
We utterly condemn it and it is encouraging to see other fans condemn this on social media also.
Identifying these anonymous mindless idiots remains problematic. We urge social media platforms and regulatory authorities to strengthen measures to prevent this kind of behaviour.
United midfielder Scott McTominay also wrote that he was “disgusted with what I have read this morning”.
Former United centre-back Rio Ferdinand called it a “disgrace”, adding: “These ignorant idiots need to be exposed so everyone can see them for what they are.”
This is a disgrace 🤬
These ignorant idiots need to be exposed so everyone can see them for what they are! pic.twitter.com/jGZiAEnVHv
— Rio Ferdinand (@rioferdy5) January 28, 2021
It is disgusting and disgraceful. But it’s not new. And it’s not rare.
It’s long, long overdue that social media platforms accept full responsibility for the behaviour of their users. Life bans need to be enforced. Signing up for the likes of Instagram and Twitter should be a more rigorous process, perhaps involving (photo) ID. Imposing an age limit should also be considered, because I bet that a lot of the abusers are emoji-happy kids who don’t fully understand what they’re doing. A few of them may even have the same skin colour as Tuanzebe and Martial – that’s how dumb internet racism can be; it doesn’t make it any less appalling, of course.
Anonymity is at the root of stories like this. If you want to represent yourself on a social media platform, it’s fair that other users of that platform know who you are (within reason) – yes, I realise this is both idealistic and difficult to enforce. Verification shouldn’t just be about celebrity or follower count, it needs to be applied across the board. Maybe then people would choose their words more carefully, as you have to do in the real world. A world without accountability or consequences is a dangerous place.