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'Poisoned chalice': Ian Evatt on football's online abuse crisis

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karlypants

karlypants
Nat Lofthouse
Nat Lofthouse

Social media has become a “poisoned chalice”, according to Ian Evatt.

The Bolton boss was speaking after football’s major governing bodies released an open letter calling for Twitter, Facebook and Instagram chiefs to do more to stamp out abuse online.

Manchester United players Marcus Rashford, Axel Tuanzebe, Anthony Martial and Lauren James are among those who have been the targets of social media abuse, along with West Brom’s Romaine Sawyers and Chelsea defender Reece James, Lauren’s brother.

Newcastle manager Steve Bruce said on Thursday he had been made aware of social media users wishing him dead by his children, while referee Mike Dean has asked not to officiate a Premier League game this weekend after he received death threats.

“For me, the abuse on social media, we should be careful with what we say,” Evatt said.

“I think social media is becoming a real poisoned chalice.

“I think it was initially brought in for positivity and I think it’s having the adverse effect.

“What you’re finding is normally the minority have the loudest voice.”

The open letter was signed by Football Association chief executive Mark Bullingham, his counterparts at the Premier League and the EFL, Richard Masters and Trevor Birch, the director of the women’s professional game Kelly Simmons, Professional Footballers’ Association chief executive Gordon Taylor, League Managers Association chief executive Richard Bevan, referees’ chief Mike Riley and Kick It Out chair Sanjay Bhandari.

It states: “The reality is your platforms remain havens for abuse.

“Your inaction has created the belief in the minds of the anonymous perpetrators that they are beyond reach.

"The relentless flow of racist and discriminatory messages feeds on itself: the more it is tolerated by Twitter, Facebook and Instagram, platforms with billions of users, the more it becomes normal, accepted behaviour.”

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