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Premier League launches reporting system for online abuse


The Premier League has launched a dedicated system for players, managers and their families to report online discriminatory abuse.

The "central rapid response reporting system" will enable those who receive abuse via direct social media messages to notify league officials.

Those instances will then be reviewed and reports sent to the relevant social media company, before an investigation is launched and legal action potentially taken.

Chief executive Richard Masters says the system has been used as part of an investigation into abhorrent racist messages sent to former Arsenal striker Ian Wright.

"Online discriminatory abuse is unacceptable in any walk of life and tackling this issue must be a priority," Masters said.

"There are too many instances of footballers and their families receiving appalling discriminatory messages; nobody should have to deal with this.

"Our central reporting system has been developed to provide a rapid response and support for any players, managers and coaches who have been victims of serious online discrimination, whether targeted at themselves or family members.

"Our commitment is to review each case and to take immediate follow-up action.

"We have recently been made aware of the wholly unacceptable online racist abuse received by Ian Wright.

"The Premier League strongly condemns this deeply offensive behaviour.

"We immediately implemented our reporting system and will support Ian in any endeavour to bring the offenders to justice.

"The Premier League will not tolerate discriminatory behaviour in any form and we, alongside the FA, EFL [English Football League], PFA [Professional Footballers' Association] and LMA [League Managers Association] will continue to challenge major social media companies that fail to do enough to block offensive discriminatory material and identify and ban offenders from their platforms.

"The Premier League and its clubs will also continue to work with the police, Crown Prosecution Service and Kick It Out to identify and ban offenders from Premier League grounds."

Players wore Black Lives Matter in place of their names on their shirts when the Premier League resumed last week and all matches have been preceded by the two teams and officials taking a knee before kick-off.

There was outrage at Manchester City's match with Burnley, however, when a plane towing a banner that read 'White Lives Matter Burnley' flew over the Etihad Stadium, an incident that was swiftly denounced by the Clarets.

Speaking to Stats Perform News last week, Kick It Out's head of development Troy Townsend admitted he feared an "explosion" of online abuse aimed at players while matches take place behind closed doors due to the coronavirus pandemic.

"Football is tribal anyway, so that's going to make it a battle and a challenge in the first place, but these platforms also are a home for vile, dominantly racist abuse," he said.

"That would be my massive concern now: particularly as football is going to be running the whole weekend at different kick-off times, there's going to be a lot of anger spread around the whole day.

"But the minority always speaks louder and one tiny bit of racial abuse, whatever form that comes in, is one that will absolutely get exposed, as it should do because one is too many, but I honestly fear an explosion.

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