Arsenal have launched a new initiative to address online abuse and have called on supporters to play their part in identifying, condemning and highlighting such posts when they are shared on social media.
Having seen a worrying increase in violent threats, sexual discrimination and racial abuse directed at players, staff and their respective families, the club has made it clear that they will lobby the “relevant authorities” and social media companies to punish those who are responsible.
In addition, they promise to work even closer with other clubs, the Premier League and partners such as Kick It Out, The FA, PFA and the police to provide better support to victims.
All of us at Arsenal – players, staff and fans – stand together to address the flow of abusive posts and messages on social media platforms
We call on everyone to join forces and identify, condemn and highlight abuse when they see it pic.twitter.com/3WEZLt7uCt
— Arsenal (@Arsenal) March 30, 2021
On its social media platforms, the club said: “This is about changing attitudes and making a difference every day.”
Arsenal went on to outline a set of four demands:
1. Racist/discriminatory messages/posts should be filtered/blocked before they are received.
2. Operate robust/transparent/swift measures to take down abusive material if it does get into circulation.
3. Users subject to verification that allows for accurate ID of person behind the account. Steps taken to stop a user that has sent abuse from re-registering.
4. Our platforms should actively assist investigating authorities in identifying the originators of discriminatory posts.
In recent months, CEO Vinai Venkatesham and manager Mikel Arteta have both spoken publicly about the need for proactive change after Eddie Nketiah, Granit Xhaka and Hector Bellerin (amongst others) were targeted by online trolls.
“The abuse of so many of our black footballers on social channels is probably and possibly the biggest problem we have in the game at the moment,” said Venkatesham in February.
“Footballers, referees and officials are all human beings and have feelings like anybody else, and we really cannot underestimate the impact that social media abuse can have on an individual.
“Football, the players, and social media companies need to come together to solve this because this is a moment in time.
“If we don’t make positive progress I really, really worry about the path we are heading on.”
Days after, Arteta hinted that the club were working on a plan for long-term change.
“When you are winning it is beautiful, you are incredible and you are the best coach. When you lose it is the opposite, it’s not pleasant. When it is personal against me I can take it, but when it is my family involved it is a different story.
“The club is very supportive, we do what we have to when those things happen. Medium, long term, can we do something about it? We need to protect people in the game.”
Obviously, this is a very complicated issue, one that extends outside of football into wider society and beyond. While the authorities
get their shit together play catch up with technology, it’s great that the club has stuck its head above the parapet and appears willing to play its part in pushing for change.
Ultimately, that change starts with each and every one of us. You are responsible for what you say and what you write.
As an aside to this, we’d like to point you in the direction of our most recent reminder about commenting on Arseblog News. Pay special attention to Blogs’ “Don’t Be A Dick” rule…it outlines a very simple philosophy:
Think about someone you know who is a dick. We all know someone. Don’t be like them.
As you type away, ask yourself ‘Would Bukayo Saka – the nicest young man alive – post this?’, and if the answer is no, maybe think about how it is you want to get your opinion across.