• Tuesday, December 06, 2022

FOOTBALL

‘This has gone too far’: Arsenal CEO Vinai Venkatesham on online abuse of players

A view of Emirates Stadium in London, Arsenal’s home ground. (Reuters Photo)

By: Sattwik Biswal

ARSENAL has launched a #StopOnlineAbuse campaign for ‘changing attitudes and making a difference every day,’ when it comes to racist abuse of players on social media.

The club would have to consider joining its former player Thierry Henry if nothing is done to stop online abuse of its players.

Vinai Venkatesham, the club’s chief executive, said the club has the option of suspending their social media accounts but for now they are looking at bringing in the change using the huge following.

“We all have to acknowledge this has gone too far,” Venkatesham told Sky Sports News.

“There is a really dark side to social media, and we cannot accept that. I don’t see that getting any better, I see it getting worse and we have to find a way to solve it. I’m not saying this is straightforward to fix.

“What I want to do, with others, is do everything we can to eliminate that dark side so we can continue to enjoy social media channels for all the positive things that they bring,” he added.

He lauded Henry’s move of removing himself from social media this week because of rising levels of racism, bullying and discrimination.

“I understand the decision that Thierry made. I thought it was sad that Thierry felt like he had to do that. But I also thought that it was a really powerful message, and I congratulate him for that.

“I felt really sad that it has come to a point where a player of the profile of Thierry, and a human being, has decided that they don’t feel social media is a safe environment.”

Arsenal having nearly 38m ‘likes’ of their official page on Facebook and a combined following of more than 37m accounts on Twitter and Instagram. The club is looking to bring in the change with their campaign.

But, Venkatesham says suspension also remains an option.

“I would say that nothing is off the table,” conceded Venkatesham. “We have taken the approach that we feel is appropriate and use the power of the following that we have on social media to send, what we think, is a really powerful message around our campaign.

“It’s not a press release, it’s a series of activities that we are going to be doing and we will continue to highlight those on our channels. That doesn’t mean there aren’t other approaches available and I think everyone has to choose their own approach if they’re trying to be pro-active,” he said.

In recent months, Twitter and Facebook, which owns Instagram, have introduced new measures to tackle discriminatory abuse on their platforms.

Facebook says it acted on 6.6m pieces of hate speech content on Instagram between October and December last year, 95 per cent of which they found before anyone reported it to them.

Twitter and Facebook have representatives in an online hate working group, which was convened by Kick It Out and includes the Football Association.

Eastern Eye

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