Trashing Twitter: Neville says it is time football sent a message to social media giants

August 21 – Former England international Phil Neville has called for the football community to “send a powerful message” and boycott social media for six months in response to the rise in racist abuse of players.

The one-time Manchester United stalwart, currently coach of England’s national women’s team, reacted after Paul Pogba was targeted online after missing a penalty for United on Monday.

“I’ve lost total faith in whoever runs these social media departments, so I just wonder whether now as a football community, in terms of really sending a powerful message, it is: come off social media,” said Neville.

“Six months – let’s come off social media. Let’s see the effect that it has on these social media companies, whether they’re really going to do something about it.”

Pogba was the third player to suffer online racist abuse within a week and Neville added: “It’s a problem not just in football. It’s a problem in society but football now is at the forefront of everybody’s minds in terms of we’ve got the power to do something about it. I think we need to make a real strong message, and I say to every single footballer out there, and to every club, and to the PFA: why don’t we make a big stand? Come off social media. Boycott all social media now and see if that makes a big enough impact.”

Neville backed the idea put forward by Pogba’s Manchester United teammate Harry Maguire that all accounts be verified and accountable, with addresses provided. “You can be an egg on Twitter and no one knows who you are,” he charged.

Twitter insisted in a statement it is taking action.

“We’re fully aware of and share the concerns surrounding online racist abuse towards certain footballers in the UK over recent days. We strongly condemn this unacceptable behaviour and have now permanently suspended a series of accounts for violating our Hateful Conduct Policy.”

“We’re proactively monitoring the conversation online and will continue taking robust action on any account which violates our rules.”

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