French forward Anthony Martial of English Premier League side Manchester United was again at the receiving end of vile racist abuse on social media in the aftermath of Sunday’s 1-1 draw with West Bromwich Albion at the Hawthorns.
This makes it the second time in the space of three weeks that the 25-year-old is having to endure online abuse. He was targeted and forced to endure hateful comments following January’s shock loss to Sheffield United. Recently, his teammates Marcus Rashford and Axel Tuanzebe have also been targeted.
Once again, Troy Townsend, Head of Development at football’s equity and inclusion organisation “Kick It Out” had to issue a response, insisting that such abuse will keep not cease until social media companies decide to bring in stronger punishments against abusers.
Townsend wrote: “Let me break my Sunday silence and just say here we go again. It’s so predictable now, it makes a mockery of Instagram’s comments this week.
“I wonder if this account will be barred for a month and collect their ‘Insta slap on the wrist’ and ‘don’t do that again’ talk.”
Townsend directed his comments at Facebook, the company that owns Instagram, who insisted they would not permanently ban a user who was found guilty of abusing Swansea’s Yan Dhanda recently.
Dhanda, the 22-year-old attacking midfielder for Swansea City also spoke out about his own situation: “You see these social media companies advertising ‘No To Racism’, ‘Kick it Out’, but, when push comes to shove and it’s the reality of people sending racist messages, they are actually doing next to nothing.
“I believe they’ve banned the guy that racially abused me from sending messages for a couple of days but they’ve not taken his account off him or gone any further than that.”
These ugly incidents take their toll on the victims and their families, which in turn has a negative impact on their abilities to play their roles as footballers for their squads.
Racist abuses aimed at Martial have added to the challenges the Frenchman is facing this season at Old Trafford. He has managed only seven goals in 29 appearances as a forward for United in all competitions this year. Good for him, manager Ole Gunnar Solskjaer has backed Martial to rediscover his best form soon, which should give him a boost.
In response to a question via United website about concerns with Martial, the Norwegian coach replied, “No [I’m not concerned by his form]. I know Anto is working hard to get back to where he was. And he’ll score goals.
”His attitude is very good. Form is sometimes temporary but class is permanent. The kid’s got class. So when he works hard, we know it’s going to come out with the good performances in the end.”
The social media companies are increasingly facing scrutiny about their roles in stamping out vile abuses, hateful comments and other negative actions people engage in using their platforms because they have a responsibility to play in ensuring that civil laws are respected and people’s rights are protected.