London (AFP) – Manchester United on Thursday called for stronger measures to be taken against “mindless idiots” who post racial abuse after Anthony Martial and Axel Tuanzebe were targeted.
Ole Gunnar Solskjaer’s men fell to a shock 2-1 loss to the Premier League’s bottom side Sheffield United at Old Trafford on Wednesday.
That defeat sparked a torrent of online invective aimed at United’s players, including racist abuse aimed at defender Tuanzebe, who inadvertently turned home Oliver Burke’s winner, and forward Martial.
Racist terms and monkey emojis were put on Instagram comments of the pair’s most recent posts.
“Everyone at Manchester United is disgusted by the racial abuse received by players via social media after last night’s game,” the club said in a statement on Thursday.
“We utterly condemn it and it is encouraging to see other fans condemn this on social media also.”
United said they had zero tolerance of any form of racism or discrimination.
“Identifying these anonymous mindless idiots remains problematic,” the club said.
“We urge social media platforms and regulatory authorities to strengthen measures to prevent this kind of behaviour.”
Tuanzebe and Martial also received support from their team-mates.
Midfielder Scott McTominay posted a photo of Tuanzebe with a crown on his head alongside a heart emoji as well as black and white fists.
“My brother,” he said on an Instagram Story post. “Disgusted with what I have read this morning.”
United captain Harry Maguire wrote on Twitter alongside a picture of the players taking a knee: “UNITED against racism. We will not tolerate it.”
Sanjay Bhandari, chairman of anti-discrimination organisation Kick It Out, said he hoped those responsible for the abuse would be removed by social media platforms.
“We know that discriminatory abuse can have significant real world impact on the welfare of the victims,” he added.
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