Twitter to discuss racism with Kick it Out after Tammy Abraham abuse

August 15, 2019

Social media giant Twitter has agreed to discuss racist abuse with football anti-discrimination group Kick It Out for the first time.

It comes after Chelsea striker Tammy Abraham was targeted online after missing the decisive penalty in Chelsea's 5-4 penalty shootout defeat to Liverpool in the Super Cup final on Wednesday night.

Kick It Out subsequently sent a "call to action" to social media platforms including Twitter, asking what was being done to "tackle this insidious problem".

"We've had a bit of good news, which is that Twitter want to sit down and talk," Kick It Out's Troy Townsend told Sky Sports News.

"That's a start and what we asked for. Hopefully there will be some actions coming out of those conversations."

Townsend added: "The fact they have acknowledged communication from us and are willing to talk means we open up the conversation.

"The proof will be in the pudding."

In a statement issued to the PA news agency, Twitter highlighted the recent 'health update' post earlier this year, with significant progress made when it comes to hateful conduct on the service.

"We continue to take action on any account that violates the Twitter Rules," a Twitter spokesperson said.

"We welcome people to freely express themselves on our service, however, as outlined in our Hateful Conduct Policy, users cannot promote violence against, threaten or harass other people on the basis of race, ethnicity or other protected groups.

"We remain deeply committed to improving the health of the conversation on the service and in that respect we continue to prioritise the safety of our users."

'Abuse has been on Twitter for too long'

However, Townsend maintains more must be done to combat the social media trolls, suggesting perpetrators are being allowed to open multiple social media accounts.

He also said Abraham had been sent images referencing the Klu Klux Klan.

"It just goes to show how easy it is for someone to level that kind of racial hatred at players just because they didn't do the desired thing for them - which is putting the ball in the back of the net," Townsend added.

"What we're asking is for these people to be held accountable. A lot of people are shocked by the abuse, I'm not at all - it's been on the platform for far too long."

There were four reports of racist abuse on the opening weekend of the EFL season.

Last week Queens Park Rangers U18s walked off the pitch during a recent friendly in Spain after suffering alleged racist abuse from opposition players.

Townsend, who leads Kick It Out's mentoring and leadership work, had delivered an educational session to those players about what they might experience in the days before the match.

Lee Hoos, QPR chief executive, called on UEFA to take the "strongest possible action" while FIFA said on Thursday it will "look into the matter" when it has been passed on the relevant information.

"No one wants to see players walk off the pitch but ultimately if the officials are not handling the case and not following the correct protocol, there is no alternative," Townsend said.

A report released by Kick It Out in July said reports of racism in English football rose by 43 per cent - from 192 to 274 - last season.

Factoring in all forms of discrimination, reports of abuse in professional and grassroots football increased by 32 per cent to 422, compared to 319 during the 2017/18 campaign.

A further 159 reports were received via social media.

Last month, Chelsea banned a supporter for life for using racially abusive language and threatening and aggressive behaviour towards England's Raheem Sterling during a match against Manchester City on December 8, 2018.

The Premier League club also temporarily banned five other supporters for periods of between one and two years for the use of abusive language and threatening and aggressive behaviour at the same fixture.

"We need to let people understand that racial discrimination continues to happen," said Townsend. "A lot of people feel it doesn't exist.

"If there wasn't the factual evidence behind this, I would have nothing to talk about."

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