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Arsenal’s CEO reveals that the club might boycott social media

Fri 02 April 2021 | 6:35

As Arsenal’s legend, Thierry Henry, quitted all social media platforms in response to abuse, the Gunners have formed a #StopOnlineAbuse campaign. Footballers around the globe have spoken out over increasingly racial toxic and boycotting the platforms remains an option.

"I would say that nothing is off the table," Vinai Venkatesham told

Sky Sports

. "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.

"We all have to acknowledge this has gone too far.

"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.

"I'm going to steal Ian Wright's words here, my biggest fear is that this type of behaviour becomes normalised. My biggest fear is you will have young, black, footballers who will just say, 'Being abused racially on social media goes with the territory of being a Premier League footballer.' That is unacceptable and we cannot stand by and allow that to happen. It is 2021 and we need to use this as a wake-up call."

On Thierry Henry’s decision to leave all social media platforms, Venkatesham said: "I understand the decision that Thierry made," said Venkatesham. "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."

Venkatesham revealed Arsenal are holding more workshops with players to help them protect themselves by blocking users and muting offensive words and phrases. He continued: "Part of it is giving some of our players a bit of social media training around some of the features, preferences, that they can set around their own social media account which might help the abuse, if it is received, not be seen by them or blocked before it gets to them.

"Our players, in the women's team and the men's team, all the way through the academies, they are human beings just like the rest of us. They have frailties and they get affected, just like the rest of us. This disgusting abuse does really affect people."

The Arsenal CEO revealed the atmosphere behind Premier League club meetings concerning the issue.

"This issue gets talked about regularly at Premier League shareholder (club) meetings," he said.

"It unites every single one of the 20 clubs; everybody feels hugely strongly about this issue. We've had some passionate, and emotional, discussions because everybody is horrified by what they're seeing.

"We are all taking steps to do what we can to support our players."

"There is clearly something about the fact that the anonymous nature by which you can interact on social media is encouraging individuals to post this type of abuse," explained Venkatesham.

"My worry is this point around it being normalised. If it becomes normalised on social media channels, I don't know what happens next. I don't know where else it becomes normalised.

"I think social media is a force for good in very many ways. It enables better communication, people to get closer to other people, and it's also a way to 'shoot the breeze' with people who have similar interests to you.

"The problem has been the dark side, an environment that can be toxic, hurtful, discriminatory and we've seen disgusting messages sent that have had a profound effect on people. This is a situation that seems to be getting worse, rather than better."

source: SportMob