Willian latest player to report racial abuse on social media

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Arsenal midfielder Willian has revealed that he has been sent racist abuse on social media.

The 32-year-old Brazil international shared screenshots of abusive messages sent to him on Instagram.

“We cannot and will not let racist and hateful abuse become a normalised part of the game,” Arsenal said.

In the past week, Manchester United’s Anthony Martial has received abuse on Instagram and Arsenal’s Eddie Nketiah has been targeted on Twitter.

A Twitter spokesperson said the account responsible for posting the Nketiah abuse had been “permanently suspended”.

It was the second time in three weeks that Martial had been abused, while team-mates Marcus Rashford and Axel Tuanzebe have also faced racism online.

Manchester United said their position remained unchanged from a statement issued at the end of January, when they said they were “disgusted” at the abuse and urged social media platforms and regulatory authorities “to strengthen measures to prevent this kind of behaviour”.

Willian showed his Instagram followers direct message threads from two different users sending racist abuse, in three separate messages.

The former Chelsea player wrote alongside the messages: “Something needs to change! The fight against racism continues.”

An Arsenal spokesperson added: “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.

“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.”

On Thursday, Arsenal chief executive Vinai Venkatesham said social media abuse being directed at players and officials was “the biggest problem in the game at the moment”.

Premier League referee Mike Dean notified police after his family received a number of threats, including death threats and abusive messages.

Earlier this month Facebook, which owns Instagram, said it would not ban a user who racially abused Swansea’s Yan Dhanda.

British Asian Dhanda, 22, was abused on Instagram after his side’s FA Cup defeat by Manchester City on 10 February.

In that case, Facebook said it had temporarily stopped the user from sending Instagram messages.