Leicester City manager Brendan Rodgers has condemned the sharp recent rise in racist and discriminatory abuse aimed at footballers online.
The top boss said that while he acknowledged that players should be prepared to accept criticism for their performances by fans through social media, they should not have to deal with any form of abuse.
The Catholic Northern Irish coach, who has received sectarian abuse during his own career, urged authorities and social media companies to ensure that abuse is not tolerated and that those spouting such messages face the appropriate action.
“There are probably a couple of sides to it,” he said. “You have the racist stuff and discrimination which is not acceptable at all and that is something the Government and people in charge of the social media outlets have to get a handle on.
“The other side is you are going to get criticism, so you are going to have to be able to take it. If not, don’t go on it.”
Rodgers’ comments come amid a rise in cases of online abuse, much of which is racist. Facebook recently announced that it is changing the rules governing direct messaging on its Instagram platform, so that accounts found to have repeatedly sent abusive private messages are disabled.
Fadzai Madzingira, Facebook’s UK head of content policy, told BBC Sport: “I’m horrified at the types of abuse that people, especially footballers, have to deal with on the basis of who they are, whether it’s their race or their religion or their gender. As a company, we’re disappointed to see that sort of behaviour that plays out offline also playing out on our platform.”
The Government has warned social media companies they will be hit with large fines that could amount to billions of pounds if they fail to tackle abuse on their platforms.
Rodgers, who was raised a Catholic, hails from a half-Catholic, half-Protestant family in Northern Ireland.
During his time as Celtic manager from 2016 to 2019, he was outspoken on the issue of sectarian abuse, warning that it could “ruin” society.
Revealing the abuse he was subjected to at the time, he said: “Whatever your religion is and wherever you’re from and whatever your personality as a manager, it doesn’t matter. You shouldn’t be subject to that. It’s irrelevant.”
Picture: Brendan Rodgers.