Football can’t just ‘mutate’ online abuse – Kick It Out


Football cannot become complacent on the issue of online abuse, with Kick It Out chairman Sanjay Bhandari warning that the threat is continually evolving and mutating.

A year has passed since the flood of abuse directed at England players Marcus Rashford, Bukayo Saka and Jadon Sancho following the Euro 2020 penalty shootout loss to Italy.

A freedom of information request from the PA news agency revealed that investigations by the Metropolitan Police had resulted in the convictions of four men, two of whom received prison terms.

Bhandari said social media companies were also having some success in tackling the problem, but told the PA news agency: “(The abuse is) changing – we are seeing a lot more audio messages, video messages, other types of content.

“New threats are emerging, so we can’t be complacent about that, and we really won’t get lasting change unless there are legal obligations for social media companies. We therefore strongly support the Online Safety Bill.

Bhandari twice gave oral testimony to MPs reviewing the bill and added, “There are a lot of things we asked for that were included. The definition of harm has changed to include types of trolling behavior and pile-ups.

“We’ve seen new communications offenses that deal with things like rape threats and death threats, which we see very often particularly aimed at expert women and our LGBTQ+ fan groups.

“There are proposed new laws on anonymity and identity verification that platforms must provide a verification option and that you have more control over who you interact with so you can choose not to. not interact with anyone who has not verified their identity.”

In addition, Scotland Yard said four men had been contacted through a ‘community resolution’ for misusing a communications network and another had been referred to the Juvenile Delinquents Team.

No further action has been taken against five men and one woman while another man remains under investigation, police said.

Kick It Out is talking to other sports about the equality, diversity and inclusion challenges they face, after launching a review of cricket with the support of the England and Wales Cricket Board in January.

This is part of a larger update to Kick It Out’s strategy and vision, as it seeks to advocate for change, contribute to knowledge building through a new digital learning platform and to help connect talented individuals from underrepresented groups with employment opportunities around the world. Sport.

Michael Carberry leads the Kick It Out cricket project (David Davies/PA)

Bhandari saw the learning platform as an ‘iTunes for football education’ and added: “Part of the challenge for clubs is that they don’t always have access to all these resources and they search in loads and loads of different places..

“EDI is a booming industry and has been for five, six, seven, eight years. But if you are a club that wants to buy these services, you don’t always know who is the best, who is good.”

Bhandari said work in other sports would be funded by those sports themselves and through sponsors, rather than drawing funds from football.

Kick It Out began as an anti-racism campaign group, but evolved to fight discrimination in all its forms.

The coming season is set to be pivotal in terms of the game’s attitudes towards the LGBTQ+ community, with Blackpool striker Jake Daniels heading into the season as the first openly gay British professional footballer in over 30 years.

“What we can’t do is just use the World Cup to attack Qatar, we also have to use it to look at ourselves and look at the English game and say, ‘well, we’re not perfect’ .”
-Sanjay Bhandari

Concerns also remain about how members of the LGBTQ+ community will be treated at the World Cup in Qatar later this year, but Bhandari also hopes it will bring about change much closer to home.

“If we have the World Cup to start the conversation, it shouldn’t be the end of the conversation,” he said.

“We should use this as a tentpole to say, how can we have three years of campaigning to make the English game more open and accepting of the LGBTQ+ community?

“Because the reality is that I could walk into a match hand-in-hand with my partner here in the UK, but I’m not sure a same-sex couple would feel the same degree of comfort walking into a match. hand in hand with his partner.

“What we can’t do is just use the World Cup to attack Qatar, we also have to use it to look at ourselves and look at the English game and say, ‘well, we’re not perfect’ .

“We need to make sure we use it to start the conversations to drive change in the English game.”

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