England’s first black international says the racist abuse towards players on social media today is worse than anything he faced when he was playing.
Nottingham Forest legend Viv Anderson said it is “shameful” stars are encountering more racism than ever.
Viv, who was capped 30 times for his country, accused the Government and social media giants of failing a generation of players by doing nothing to stop the abuse, The Mirror reports.
He has also opened up about an exchange with the late Brian Clough when he was racially abused from opposition fans while playing for Nottingham Forest.
He has called on the authorities to hit online trolls in the pocket with “massive fines” and said social media companies should also be punished for giving racists a platform to spout their vile abuse.
The Three Lions legend praised stars including Marcus Rashford and Raheem Sterling for highlighting the problem.
Viv, 64, who also played for Manchester United, Arsenal, Sheffield Wednesday, Barnsley and Middlesbrough, described the abuse as “disgraceful”.
He played in the 1970s and 1980s, when racism on the terraces of English football stadiums was rife. Fans made cruel monkey noises at him, while other players including Liverpool’s John Barnes were pelted with bananas.
“I went to Newcastle when I was playing for Nottingham Forest. It was probably my third game, in a League Cup tie,” he told the Mirror.
“The abuse I got, just walking out on the pitch before the game, was so severe I had to go back into the dressing room.
“I told the manager, Brian Clough, that I don’t think I can play tonight.
“He said straight away, ‘Don’t even go down that route, you are playing.’ So I just had to get on with it because the manager said ‘you’re playing’. There was no escape.”
Nottingham-born Viv says today’s black players have it even harder than he did because the racist abuse is constant on social media.
“I think the fight against racism has gone backwards since my day, definitely, because social media wasn’t around then,” he said.
“At least in my day you could look at the person abusing you in the face and say, ‘I can see your face’. Now they are just hiding under different accounts, on different social media platforms. I think it’s a lot more difficult for players now.
“During my day the abuse in footballers confined to the stadium, and once I left the pitch it finished. For today’s players there is no getting away from it.
“The stuff on social media has been going on for years and years and they keep putting it off and putting it off. Nothing ever gets done. The abuse is getting worse. Look how many players have been racially abused over the past two weeks. It’s definitely getting worse.
“Clearly something has to change. I think all the authorities should be lobbying the government. Why should I go on my phone and be racially abused by somebody sitting in their room, who doesn’t know me?
“Back in the early days of social media I was abused, but we didn’t really have a voice back then. Nobody would have listened. But now people like Marcus Rashford and Raheem Sterling have a voice and they are standing up to it, which is great.
“Now it’s come to a point where players are saying, ‘enough is enough’. Death threats, stuff like that, is absolutely ridiculous. It’s disgraceful. This weekend we have a Premier League referee who can’t ref a game because of death threats to his family. What’s the world come to?
“Some of these incidents on social media recently, the monkey emojis and stuff like that, is nothing to do with their playing. It’s about the fact that they don’t like them because of the colour of their skin.
“These people are able to hide and dish out this abuse from behind their computer screen. They wouldn’t do it in a stadium. They have got to be accountable.
“When they sign up to their accounts they should be made to use their real names, showing some form of identification. It should far more stringent than it currently is.
“If a troll knows he faces a £50,000 fine if he’s caught posting racist abuse on social media then they will stop very quickly. If the Government can come in and say anybody racially abusing on social media will receive severe fines, it will stop.
“I’m not talking little fines, it needs to be big fines that really hurt these people.”
Viv, who now lives in Cheshire, said companies such as Twitter, Facebook and Instagram should also face massive fines for not stopping the abuse.
“The responsibility has to be on them. If you make the punishment severe enough they will get people in to stop it very quickly,” he said.
“The social media companies are as much to blame as the racists posting the abuse. It’s down to them. They need to verify all accounts, get the person’s details.
“If the companies are constantly having to pay out big fines for abuse on their platforms, they will soon bring people into line very quickly. The alternative is to not go on social media, don’t look at the posts.
“But to have to remove yourself from social media because of racists would be a sad state of affairs. It would not be fair. For me, if I was a young black player starting out as a professional now, I just wouldn’t go on social media.
“That would be my way of dealing with it. I don’t want to know what some racist idiot sitting in his front room thinks about me. But I know the world has changed. I have a 14-year-old, an 11-year-old and a 23-year-old.
“If I said to them that they had to come off social media I’d be locked up in a room somewhere. Why should you be abused in any form – whether it’s about your race or being fat or whatever – on social media? It’s just wrong.
“We need to know exactly who is writing the abuse, then they can be picked out and fined. And then the social media companies are fined for letting it happen.”
Original source: Nottinghamshire Live