Nicolas Pépé and Ezgjan Alioski have received racist and threatening messages on social media following the Arsenal man’s red card for headbutting the Leeds defender. Both clubs issued statements condemning the abuse and vowing to work with the authorities to identify and prosecute the culprits. As a reminder — in the U.K. you can be criminally charged for hate speech.
We utterly condemn the vile abuse directed at Nicolas Pepe and Ezgjan Alioski on social media following our match against Leeds.— Arsenal (@Arsenal) November 23, 2020
This is completely unacceptable and we will be working with the police and authorities to do everything we can to trace and prosecute the culprits.
I’m beyond tired of writing pieces like this. And if I’m tired of writing them and you’re tired of reading them, imagine how the people subjected to racist abuse on a regular basis feel, public figure or regular person. The consistent pattern of online racist abuse of footballers and the continued existence of racism is completely unacceptable in our society and an strong indicator of how far we still have to go to stamp out bigotry of all kinds.
It’s no longer enough to see stories like this and go “mhm, that’s bad, racism bad” and move on with your day. We must be anti-racist. People much smarter and more knowledgeable than me have written extensively on anti-racism, but if you boil it down, it means to be actively working to combat racism and promote tolerance. It’s on every one of us to do something to make society better.
We did our “Black Lives Matter” thing earlier this year in sports, but it has faded from the public consciousness somewhat. But the players are still taking a knee before every Premier League match to remind us that the fight against racism and for equality is an ongoing one. We need to follow their lead. Just because the BLM buzz has faded doesn’t mean racism isn’t an ongoing problem. The abuse directed at Pépé and Alioski is yet another reminder that we have a long way to go. We need to stay active and vigilant.