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29 Mar, 2021 13:40

‘Using it as a weapon’: Arsenal icon Henry says he’ll return to social media only ‘when it’s safer’

‘Using it as a weapon’: Arsenal icon Henry says he’ll return to social media only ‘when it’s safer’

Former France and Arsenal hero Thierry Henry has spoken out after his decision to quit social media, claiming it is not “safe” and that some users are being driven to suicide by others who use platforms as a “weapon.”

The Gunners' all-time top scorer announced in a damning statement last week that he was leaving social media, writing: I will be removing myself… until the people in power are able to regulate their platforms with the same vigour and ferocity that they currently do when you infringe copyright.” 

Also on rt.com Football icon Thierry Henry blames ‘toxic racism, bullying & mental torture’ as he pledges exit & urges social media giants to act

The move from the former Barcelona star comes amid demands for more to be done to stop racial abuse being directed at footballers online.

Speaking more about the step to Good Morning Britain, Henry said those behind the abuse must be rooted out.

“We need to find out who those people are… It is a great tool, but I know a little portion of the world is using it as a weapon. I will be back on it when it’s safer,” Henry told hosts Susanna Reid and Ben Shephard.

“We're seeing that it’s not a safe place at the minute, people are getting racially abused. For me when you see the statement, it’s very important, I talk also about bullying and harassment that can cause mental issues.

“People commit suicide because of it. It's very difficult I know to eradicate everything right, but can it be safer? We all know that it is a great tool. It is a great tool that a lot of people are using as a weapon. Why? because they can hide because [of] fake accounts.”


World Cup winner Henry turned his back on Instagram and Twitter, where he had well over two million followers, and accused platforms of not doing enough to combat racism.

“If you delete the accounts some people can reopen it. New IP address. The only thing you need is an email and a number to get in. Why can it not be an NHS number or your national insurance number or passport?

“...You mention responsibility but also accountability, there has to be. Everyone is using the word 'equality' at the minute and I truly believe that that's the case,” added the 43-year-old.

High-profile names including Henry’s compatriot Paul Pogba and a host of other Premier League stars have spoken out about racist abuse they have received in recent months, while the English FA has called on platforms to “step up” and do more to tackle еру problem.

“I will always talk about my community and I will always talk about my sport, it's close to home. But also we cannot forget about bullying and not forget about harassment and what it causes,” Henry added.

“I will be back on it when people stop using it as a weapon.”

Henry was given support on Monday by Wales star Gareth Bale, currently on loan at Tottenham from Real Madrid. 

The four-time Champions League winner signaled he would be willing to join a broader social media boycott, should it happen.  

"If everyone did it at once, not just one or two people, I would," Bale told reporters. 

"If it was a campaign where a lot of influential people in sport and other forms of life on social media to make a statement then I think it could help. If that was the case I'm all for that."

Also on rt.com ‘I’m tired. We are all tired’: Football pundit Ian Wright ‘disappointed’ as Irish teen spared conviction for racist messages

Henry stepped down as head coach of MLS outfit Montreal Impact in February, and has been linked with a potential return to management in England, although a purported move to Championship team Bournemouth didn’t materialize.