Social media companies must do more says 'disgusted' Sheffield United boss Paul Heckingbottom after Rhian Brewster becomes latest player to be racially abused online

SHEFFIELD UNITED manager Paul Heckingbottom has spoken of his disgust after striker Rhian Brewster became the latest footballer to suffer racial abuse at the hands of vile online trolls - and is urging social media companies to do more in the bid to eradicate online hate.

In a club statement, the Blades confirmed that they have reported the incident to the police and Instagram.

Heckingbottom said: “We have put a statement out as a club and obviously are all disgusted.

Hide Ad
Hide Ad

"Unfortunately, we cannot get rid of it (abuse) as of yet and everyone is doing all they can. We have had discussions as a club and some board members and representatives are speaking to the powers that be at these social media companies to try and identify the person who has done it and make it more difficult to happen.

Rhian Brewster. Picture: Simon Bellis/SportImage.Rhian Brewster. Picture: Simon Bellis/SportImage.
Rhian Brewster. Picture: Simon Bellis/SportImage.

"We are not the only club. Everyone is doing it. There seems to be a real drive from people in the game to get rid of it, but we need help from people outside the game now. We do.

"Because it is a breeding ground. People getting away with it is just wrong, totally wrong. From our point of view, Rhian is one of our players and one of our family if you like.

"From my point of view as his manager, it is not nice. It is not about football and he is one of our young lads who I feel, in my position, really responsible and protective of these people and players. Whether they are 35 or 20.

Hide Ad
Hide Ad

"It's a strange feeling; not a nice one, a horrible one. You want to do more than just sit here and talk about it. It is just so disappointing and a poor reflection on the type of people who are doing that."

It is the latest incident in a depressing catalogue of examples of racist abuse disgracefully meted out to footballers.

In February 2021, Axel Tuanzebe, Marcus Rashford and Anthony Martial all reported racist abuse following Manchester United’s home defeat to the Blades.

Former Blades manager Chris Wilder later revealed that his own club had contacted South Yorkshire Police regarding separate incidents involving vile online trolls targeting some of his own players in 2020-21.

Hide Ad
Hide Ad

Meanwhile, back in September, Blades defender Kyron Gordon, brother of Hull City player Tyler Smith, was also allegedly racially abused by some home supporters in a league fixture at the MKM Stadium.

At the end of April and start of May 2021, a coalition of English football’s largest governing bodies and organisations including the Football Association, Premier League and EFL went silent on social media in a show of solidarity against racism and discrimination.The FA Women’s Super League, FA Women’s Championship, Professional Footballers’ Association, League Managers Association, PGMOL, Kick It Out, Women in Football and the Football Supporters’ Association also suspended all use of their social media accounts from 3pm on Friday, April 30 until 11.59pm on Monday May 3.Clubs across Yorkshire took part in the online boycott, a collective attempt to try and put pressure on social media companies to do more, much more, to combat online hate.