Southampton demand action after racist abuse aimed at Kyle Walker-Peters
Southampton have demanded action from social media platforms after calling in police over racist abuse aimed at defender Kyle Walker-Peters.
The full-back was targeted with a series of offensive replies, including monkey emojis, to his latest Instagram post following Sunday’s 0-0 Premier League draw at Manchester United.
One racist term was used in reference to United substitute Alejandro Garnacho, who had been left writhing in pain after a challenge by Walker-Peters late in the game.
An official statement from the Saints said: “In February 2021, the club made a statement about one of our young players receiving abhorrent racial abuse following a match against Manchester United.
“More than two years on, we find ourselves in the exact same position: disgusted and disappointed in the behaviour of those online who lower themselves to abusing players for the colour of their skin.
“What is equally frustrating is the lack of meaningful action in those two years from the social media platforms who allow such hatred to breed and fester.
“As we have said before, Southampton Football Club fights every day to remove such people from our sport and our community in order to protect our players, our staff, Southampton fans and those football supporters around the world who recognise and celebrate the diversity that makes football special.
“We have forwarded the messages concerned to Hampshire Police in keeping with our normal processes when dealing with these cases.
“We have also reported these posts to the social media platforms involved.
“We can only hope that they finally pay attention to what continues to be a major problem and that we do not find ourselves repeating these words in another two years’ time.”
Southampton’s stance was backed by the Football Association.
A statement on the FA’s official Twitter account said: “We strongly condemn the racist online abuse that continues to be directed towards players across our game.
“We urge social media companies and authorities to take the strongest possible action and we will not stop challenging this issue until tangible changes are made.”
Meta, which owns Instagram, is in contact with Southampton over the matter and has removed the offending comments from Walker-Peters’ account.
A spokesperson said: “We don’t want racist abuse on Instagram, and we’ve removed a number of comments for breaking our rules.
No one thing will fix this overnight, but we’ll continue to work to help protect our community from abuse and respond to valid legal requests to support police investigations.
“Over the last few years, we’ve launched several ways to help protect people from having to experience abuse in the first place, including our Hidden Words feature which lets people filter offensive comments and DMs – and we recently started turning this on by default for people with creator accounts.
“No one thing will fix this overnight, but we’ll continue to work to help protect our community from abuse and respond to valid legal requests to support police investigations.”
Hampshire Police confirmed they had been asked to investigate a complaint.
A spokesperson said: “We are working with Southampton FC following a report of racist abuse directed at a player following their game against Manchester United. We are liaising with the club and enquiries into this matter are ongoing.”
Southampton took similar action in February 2021 after then 19-year-old midfielder Alex Jankewitz received abusive messages online after being sent off on his first Premier League start in a 9-0 mauling at the hands of United.
The best videos delivered daily
Watch the stories that matter, right from your inbox