Southgate: ‘Ingrained racism’ of online trolls, not social media, is real issue

Premier League stars have been subjected to racist abuse online in recent weeks.

By Press Association Published: 29 August 2019 - 9.47pm

England manager Gareth Southgate insists social media platforms cannot take all of the blame when footballers are racially abused online and believes it is up to society to stamp it out.

Paul Pogba, as well as England internationals Tammy Abraham and Marcus Rashford, have been targeted by online trolls after missing penalties in recent weeks.

There have been calls for social media sites such as Twitter, Facebook and Instagram to police their platforms better to help eradicate such abuse.

But Southgate feels that pointing the finger largely at those companies, rather than those actually posting the racist comments, is the wrong way to approach the issue.

“I don’t know what is possible for the social media companies,” he replied when asked about the recent cases.

“But, really, the social media companies are just a vehicle for people to vent their opinions in a similar way to how football grounds are, sadly at times, a vehicle that people use to vent their opinions.

“The issue isn’t the medium through which they do it, the issue is the opinions of those people and the need to educate them and move forward as a society.

“The issue is people’s mindsets and their ingrained racism”
- Gareth Southgate

“So, we can highlight the social media companies and I would imagine that there could be stricter controls on them.

“But the issue is people’s mindsets and their ingrained racism, which is the bigger deal for me.”

Southgate spoke out strongly against racism after a number of his England players were targeted by supporters during a Euro 2020 qualifier in Montenegro earlier in the year.

Raheem Sterling pointedly holds his ears as he celebrates scoring against Montenegro
Raheem Sterling pointedly holds his ears as he celebrates scoring against Montenegro (Nick Potts/PA).

Chelsea winger Callum Hudson-Odoi and Danny Rose of Tottenham were abused by home fans in Podgorica back in March with the pair, as well as Three Lions team-mate Raheem Sterling, also talking about the issue after the game.

“I would be amazed if anybody in their heart thinks it’s an acceptable way to do anything,” added Southgate.

“There’s no place in society for discrimination of any type and players – but broader than players, any members of the public – don’t deserve to be spoken to or treated in that way.

“So the profile of our players helps the issue to be raised more publicly, but this is something which, sadly, all parts of society face and it’s completely unacceptable.”