Sport rallies around David McGoldrick following online racial abuse

Sheffield United will ‘do all we can to find the perpetrator of this disgusting message’

Sheffield’s David McGoldrick and Chelsea’s Tammy Abraham after their Premier League match on Saturday. Photograph: Peter Powell/NMC/Pool/EPA

Sheffield’s David McGoldrick and Chelsea’s Tammy Abraham after their Premier League match on Saturday. Photograph: Peter Powell/NMC/Pool/EPA

 

There have been messages of support for David McGoldrick from Sheffield United and the FAI, but renewed calls too for the big social media companies to do more to counter racism after the 32-year-old striker revealed on Instagram that he had been racially abused on the platform.

McGoldrick, who scored twice in his side’s weekend win over Chelsea, posted a screenshot of the abuse, which included several racial epithets, with the caption: “2020 and this is life.”

The player received a great many supportive statements in reply, and on Monday his club issued a statement in which it committed its support to the effort to find the person who had sent the abuse from what was an anonymous account named mma_notorious_mma.

Such behaviour is appalling and cannot be tolerated by football or society

“As a club we will support David McGoldrick and will do all we can to find the perpetrator of this disgusting message,” it said. “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.”

The FAI, meanwhile, said that it “condemns the online racist abuse aimed at our striker David McGoldrick and joins Sheffield United in offering David all the support we can give him at this time. Such behaviour is appalling and cannot be tolerated by football or society.”

Anti-racism organisations also expressed their support for the player. The Irish wing of Show Racism the Red Card labelled the incident “repulsive”, and British-based Kick It Out reiterating the call for companies such as Instagram and Twitter to more effectively combat the posting of racist material on their online platforms.

“We have to question the appetite for change from the social media companies that posted messages of solidarity for #BlackLivesMatter,” it said, “whilst continuing to feed this level of racial ignorance. We stand together with the club and David McGoldrick in highlighting this abhorrent abuse.”

Attacks

The incident is just the latest in a long line of attacks targeting footballers of different ethnicities online. McGoldrick’s Ireland team-mate, Cyrus Christie, has gone public on a number of occasions regarding the abuse he has received. Like the abuse of Wilfried Zaha over the weekend, this latest incident occurs at a time when the issue of racism within the game and around society in general has received a huge amount of attention because of the Black Lives Matter movement.

A 12-year-old boy was arrested by British police after the Zaha incident, which involved racist abuse and threats ahead of the match between Aston Villa and Crystal Palace.

Speaking before the arrest, Palace manager Roy Hodgson described the abuse directed at his player as “cowardly and despicable” and after it Zaha himself issued a strong statement in which he said that age did not excuse the culprit but that society in general needed to do far more than pay lip-service to the cause of eradicating racism.

It isn’t enough to just say #notoracism. We need action, we need education, things need to change

“People need to understand that whatever your age, that your behaviour and your words come with consequences and you cannot hide behind social media,” he said.

“It is important social media platforms do as they did yesterday and seek out these individuals and remove them. This is not the first time I have received messages like this, nor am I the only player to receive messages like this – it happens every day.

“I want to thank everyone for the love and support but enough is enough. It is not enough to be disgusted by these messages I received and move on. It isn’t enough to just say #notoracism. We need action, we need education, things need to change.”

Social media companies consistently claim to do all that they can to prevent racial abuse and other hate speech making it online and insist that they do all they can to take it down where it has been published. Given the scale of their revenues, however, and profits, they continue to be criticised for providing organised groups and individuals with the ability to use anonymous accounts to attack sportspeople and others from minority communities.

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