Troy Deeney is among footballers to have shared experiences of abuse they or fellow players have faced online.
The Watford striker, along with Aston Villa’s Tyrone Mings as well as Liverpool pair Jordan Henderson and Rinsola Babajide, spoke with Hertsmere MP Oliver Dowden on tackling abuse and discrimination in the game during a virtual meeting.
Former players including Karen Carney and Anton Ferdinand were also part of the call with the Culture Secretary on Monday.
Deeney told the cabinet minister how black players were often sent messages which included racists insults – often using emoji’s of monkeys or bananas as an insult, The Sun said.
Mr Dowden listened to representatives from the Premier League, English Football League, Women’s Super League and Women’s Championship as part of their series of discussions on the ‘Future of Football’.
The meeting was called by Ministers ahead of them introducing new laws – the Online Harms Bill – to hold social media companies to account for online harms, and a fan-led review of football governance.
While many of those who joined the call shared their experiences of abuse, the action needed to tackle the problem was also discussed.
Deeney said after the meeting: “Thanks to the Culture Secretary for giving us his time. It’s extremely important to move this conversation forward and apply pressure on the social media companies to tackle online racist and discriminatory abuse head on.”
Mr Dowden said: “To hear players talk about the level of abuse they have faced was humbling.
“Their input today has strengthened my resolve to bring in new laws to ensure there is much greater accountability from the social-media platforms for dealing with such problems.
“As we shape the ‘Future of Football’ and look towards our football governance review, we must tackle issues around discrimination and lack of equality of opportunity head on.
“I am grateful to this group of players for sharing their experiences and expertise to help the Government’s work.”
FUTURE OF FOOTBALL
Sincere thanks to @JHenderson @OfficialTM_3 Karen Carney @Rinsolab11_ @anton_ferdinand & many more for their contributions today on tackling discrimination & abuse as we look ahead to #OnlineSafety Bill & fan led review of ⚽️
Lots to get on with this year! pic.twitter.com/jVMM7QXyNC
— Oliver Dowden (@OliverDowden) January 25, 2021
As well as their direct experiences of discrimination in the men’s and women’s game, and the challenges in reporting and getting support, the game’s representatives also talked about the need to drive forward diversity in leadership and welcomed recent steps taken by clubs.
Ministers revealed plans for changing the law to tackle online harms and the Bill, due to come before Parliament this year, will require tech firms to take action so that what is unacceptable in the street and in stands is unacceptable online too.
Paul Elliott, chair of the Football Association’s inclusion advisory board, said: “Just like the stakeholders and clubs have shown by signing up to the diversity code the Secretary of State, DCMS and the Government has evidenced genuine appetite and leadership for change.”