Wright urges football to unite against racism on social media - "Call it out"

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Ian Wright believes players need to use their platform (Image: Getty Images)
Ian Wright believes players need to use their platform (Image: Getty Images)

Ian Wright still receives racial abuse on social media despite being one of the most popular England players of the modern era.

The 59-year-old Arsenal legend is in Australia at the Women's World Cup, working on a video diary for FIFA. He is also representing the world governing body's 'No Discrimination' campaign and revealed that he still gets abusive messages on social media.

He has urged footballers, men and women, to use their status and profile to call out racism and report it. "It is vitally important, the message has to get out there," said Wright, who has told in the past how he receives abuse 'on a daily basis', including when he spoke out about the Black Lives Matter movement three years ago.

"I would urge players to use the moderation tool on social media. I can show you my social media now, there is stuff on there and you have to call it out and the tool is there to do that. Otherwise what is the point in having it if you are not going to use it?"

He added: "It does not matter how small it is, call it out and use it."

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Wright's message came as Aaron Ramsdale vowed to act on homophobic comments in dressing rooms and on social media. The Arsenal star wants football to be "welcoming for everyone" so his brother, who is gay, can attend matches without fear of abuse.

On The Players' Tribune, he wrote: "I want this game I love to be a safe and welcoming place for everyone. I want my brother, Ollie - or anyone of any sexuality, race or religion - to come to games without having to fear abuse. Over the years, I probably bit my tongue a few too many times whenever I heard homophobic comments or stupid things being said."

Wright said he was 'very much in favour' of stars using any platform to speak out against discrimination. "Especially in this time right now, this is the time to speak about it, any kind of discrimination, with FIFA that should be a given," he added.

"I am very much in favour of people using any platform to speak out. Players should be leading the way. We need to think about harsher punishment because it is there for people to learn.

Wright urges football to unite against racism on social media - "Call it out"Aaron Ramsdale has called for football to be "safe and welcoming" (Getty Images)

"We don't want to just banish people because people love football so we need them to learn. If they have certain tendencies and if they feel different about different races... you want to teach them so that people are learning while they are being punished. They can come back and change, be different, have love and show love."

A package of social media tools designed to protect players from online abuse has been provided for all teams at the Women's World Cup. The Social Media Protection Service (SMPS), developed by FIFA and players' union FIFPRO, monitors hate speech on social media, hiding harmful content from the players.

"Discrimination is a criminal act," said FIFA president Gianni Infantino. "With the help of this tool, we are identifying the perpetrators and we are reporting them to the authorities so that they are punished for their actions."

Wright played 581 league games, with 287 goals for seven clubs, earning 33 caps for the England national team, and scoring nine international goals. He is best known for scored 185 goals for Arsenal, a tally bettered only by Thierry Henry (228 goals).

Jeremy Armstrong

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