By Tom Morley

Over the past year, the use of social media to target sportspeople with vile abuse has reached unpalatable levels.

And it seems much of this abuse has been racially motivated, with many high-profile sportsmen and women taking the knee to raise awareness of discrimination.

But it seems it’s a war which cannot be won – the situation is as bad as ever.

England’s Euro 2021 defeat to Italy on penalties sparked horrific abuse of Bukayo Saka, Jadon Sancho and Marcus Rashford, who all missed from the spot.

And Twitter revealed the UK was the main origin of such “abhorrent racist abuse”.

Liverpool Manager Jurgen Klopp recently condemned the abuse suffered by departing Newcastle boss Steve Bruce.

           “They have been worried about me, especially my wife Jan, she dealt with the death my parents and hers haven’t been very well.”
And Klopp admitted he “does not read it and I do not watch” social media, especially in bad periods.

So does this beg the question, why are footballers – and sportsmen and women in general – using social media?

Last season, football clubs up and down the country held a social media “blackout” for several days to try and combat abuse.

It did not work.

We are simply not doing enough to combat the abuse.

The only way forward is for clubs and leagues to stop footballers going on social media.

This way we can reduce the amount of abuse that footballers are suffering.

No doubt many will see this as an over-the-top, radical idea, and not the correct way to attempt to try and stop this.

Why do players have to be on social media?

The answer is they don’t need to be.

Yes, it allows them to engage with fans but that isn’t their job.

Their job is to preform in their sport.

Therefore, sporting associations need to act and forcibly remove athletes from social media.

Therefore removing them from being targets for abuse.

But wouldn’t this deliver a blow to the haters? To remove their targets?

We’ve seen footballers take the knee to try and combat racism, a movement a vast majority of people agree with and rightly so.

But it is not working.

Racism, in particular on social media, seems to be in the news almost everyday, and seems to have happened more since the first covid lockdown in March.

Something has to change.

The abuse Bruce suffered took a huge toll on his mental health.

A call for the change in how social media companies are protecting people online from abuse has been issued by the UK government.

But at the minute it feels like this is also a losing battle.

So – time for clubs to be proactive and protect their employees.

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