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‘Waiting for someone to KILL themselves?’ Social media giants could have blood on hands over abuse, says ex-Premier League ace

‘Waiting for someone to KILL themselves?’ Social media giants could have blood on hands over abuse, says ex-Premier League ace
A football star could be driven to take their own life if social media giants don’t crack down on current levels of abuse, former Premier League player Anton Ferdinand has told UK MPs.

Companies such as Instagram, Facebook and Twitter are in the spotlight over their policies on stamping out the racism and other abuse directed at top-level stars in a range of sports.

In football, the issue came into sharp focus during the summer when a trio of black England players – Marcus Rashford, Bukayo Saka and Jadon Sancho – were all targeted after missing penalties in the shootout defeat to Italy in the Euro 2020 final.


Social media platforms have been accused of a lax approach which allows trolls to post abuse before being too slow to take it down or not punish the offenders harshly enough.

Ferdinand, who played at clubs including West Ham and Queens Park Rangers during his career, was involved in one of English football’s biggest-ever race rows when he accused former Chelsea skipper John Terry of calling him a “f*cking black c*nt” during a match in 2011.

Terry was banned for four matches and fined £220,000 ($300,000) after being found guilty by the English FA, even though he had previously been cleared by Westminster Magistrates' Court.  


Ferdinand was subjected to continual abuse during the ordeal and its aftermath, and on Wednesday spoke to UK MPs on the Home Affairs Select Committee about the current situation.

“My worry is what are the social media companies waiting for?” Ferdinand told MPs.

“Are they waiting for a high-profile footballer to kill themselves, or a member of their family to commit suicide?

“Is that what they are waiting for? Because if that is what they are waiting for, that is too late. That is too late. Let's deal with the issue now.”

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Ferdinand – who is the younger brother of Manchester United and England icon Rio Ferdinand – added that he doubted that companies would be willing to take the steps required of them.

“My question always is to social media companies when I have a conversation with them, ‘This comes down to do you really want change? Do you really want to?’” said the 36-year-old.

“This far their words are [that] they want to, but their actions say different.”

Citing police, a BBC investigation into online abuse of players which followed the Euro 2020 final found that more than half of the 396 posts being investigated are from accounts overseas, mainly Asia and other countries in Europe.

Twelve people in the UK have been arrested and one person has charged over the toxic messages, the report added.

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