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Arsenal condemn racist abuse after Willian becomes latest victim on social media

18:38 GMT 19/02/2021
Willian Arsenal
The Brazil international shared a screenshot of hateful comments he received on social media

Arsenal have spoken out against the racist abuse Willian has received and insist that discrimination must not be allowed to become "normalised" in football.

Willian shared a screenshot of racist messages he received on Instagram on Friday as he became the latest to footballer to be targeted on social media.

And the club swiftly backed the Brazilian winger, condemning any person that abuses another person on social media.

What has been said?

"This is another depressing example of what is sadly happening to our players and many others on a regular basis," an Arsenal spokesperson said.

"Social media is one of the ways our supporters across the world can feel closer to the club and our players, but across football and beyond we’ve seen an online world poisoned by hateful, racist and discriminatory words. 

"As our chief executive Vinai Venkatesham said only yesterday, we cannot underestimate the impact abuse has on individuals and the recent spate of abuse needs to be a wake-up call. We all need to work together to drive this behaviour out. This includes clubs, governing bodies, fans, media and politicians; but requires the help and commitment of social media companies.

"Through Arsenal for Everyone we strive to ensure that everyone connected to the club feels an equal sense of belonging. We will continue to celebrate our diversity and use our platforms to educate others and continue our zero-tolerance approach to discrimination. 

"We commit to using our voice and network to strengthen measures and action taken by relevant authorities to punish those responsible for this abuse which affects us all. Where any individual is found to have an Arsenal membership, they will be banned. We cannot and will not let racist and hateful abuse become a normalised part of the game."

Who else has been targeted?

There has been a spate of racist attacks on Premier League footballers online in recent weeks.

Manchester United duo Axel Tuanzebe and Anthony Martial were victims of attacks last month, prompting the club to call for social media companies to do more to fight the issue.

United attacker Marcus Rashford also hit out at abuse he has received, saying it shows "humanity and social media at its worst". 

Meanwhile Chelsea defender Antonio Rudiger said this month that he has received abuse and called on social media companies to take responsibility.

Instagram announced last week that it will take a "tougher" approach to dealing with users who break hate speech rules and will work with police to identify and prosecute culprits.

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