PFA deputy chief executive Bobby Barnes has called on social media providers to do more to tackle online racial abuse after alarming findings presented by the Kick It Out campaign.
Statistics collated for the anti-discrimination body by Tempero and Brandwatch show there were nearly 135,000 instances of direct abuse aimed at Premier League teams and players between August 2014 and March 2015. It is also estimated there has been an abusive and discriminatory post made every 2.6 minutes this season.
Mario Balotelli received the most abusive mentions of any Premier League player with more than 52 per cent of the 8,000 offensive about him of a racist nature.
“I think these statistics are very worrying,” Barnes told Sky Sports News HQ.
“What they highlight is that new media has provided another platform for those bigots behind keyboards who are not so intelligent to have an opportunity to get their messages across to both the clubs and the players.
“It’s sad because on the one hand Twitter and other social outlets have been a real vehicle to ensure players have the opportunity to engage with the fans, and stuff like this does little to encourage them to do so.
“I would certainly urge the providers to co-operate more strongly with the law enforcement authorities to make sure what are effectively crimes that are being committed over the airwaves, are being dealt with rather than being a safe haven for what I would call those ‘cowards behind keyboards’.
“It’s very brave to make derogatory comments about somebody safely sitting behind your computer, but on the other hand I don’t think any of those people would be quite so forthcoming when they are actually face-to-face with their victims.
“In an ideal world, I think you’d have more of a compulsion on the part of the providers to actually, on request, provide the information because if crimes are being committed, I think it’s wrong that those who are unwittingly conveying those messages are able to not release the information to the authorities.