Phil Neville has called for the football community to boycott social media for six months after the latest instance of high-profile racist abuse.
England women’s manager Neville was reacting to Manchester United midfielder Paul Pogba being targeted online after he had a penalty saved in Monday’s 1-1 Premier League draw at Wolves.
Chelsea striker Tammy Abraham and Reading’s Yakou Meite have also been subjected to similar abuse over the past week following their own penalty failures.
United issued a statement branding the slurs directed towards Pogba as “disgusting” and called for social media companies to take action as they work to identify the perpetrators in this instance.
However, Neville has little faith in the likes of Twitter and Instagram making a meaningful difference and called on those within the game to take a stand.
“I’ve lost total faith in whoever runs these social media departments, so I just wonder whether now as a football community, in terms of really sending a powerful message, is: come off social media,” he said at a news conference ahead of his team’s matches against Belgium and Norway.
“Six months – let’s come off social media. Let’s see the effect that it has on these social media companies, whether they’re really going to do something about it.”
— Manchester United (@ManUtd) August 20, 2019
Neville also spoke out last October after former England and Chelsea star Karen Carney received rape and death threats on Instagram.
“We talk to them all the time because my players get that kind of abuse all the time, whether it’s racist, whether it’s sexist, whether it’s homophobic,” he continued.
“They get that kind of abuse. Nothing gets done about it, but we experienced it earlier in the season.
“It’s not going away, I think there’s some fantastic campaigns, initiatives, messaging that goes out, particularly in the Premier League, through the FA, about trying to stamp out racism.
“And at times, you feel as if you’re making inroads, and then you get probably a massive reminder that actually we’re probably not.
“It’s a problem not just in football – it’s a problem in society, but football now is at the forefront of everybody’s minds in terms of, we’ve got the power to do something about it. I think the football community will.
“I think we try, but it’s getting to the point now where I think we need to make a real strong message, and I say to every single footballer out there, and to every club, and to the PFA: why don’t we make a big stand? Come off social media. Boycott all social media now and see if that makes a big enough impact.”
Disgusting. Social media need to do something about it… Every account that is opened should be verified by a passport/driving licence. Stop these pathetic trolls making numerous accounts to abuse people. @Twitter @instagram https://t.co/bzow073aTw
— Harry Maguire (@HarryMaguire93) August 20, 2019
Pogba’s United team-mate Harry Maguire called for all social media accounts to be verified and Neville suggested he would support such an approach.
“Maguire said this morning about being verified, giving passport details and addresses to be hold accountable for posting such disgusting things,” he added.
“You can be an egg on Twitter and no one knows who you are.”
Anti-discrimination pressure group Kick It Out has lamented the “increasingly predictable” nature of online attacks.
“This is a call to action – we want to know what they [social media companies] are going to do to tackle this insidious problem,” a Kick It Out statement read.