Arsenal boss Mikel Arteta the latest to reveal extent of online abuse

Mark Mann-Bryans, PA
·5-min read

Mikel Arteta is the latest name to push for better protection against online abuse after revealing he and his family have been targeted recently.

The Arsenal manager said he no longer uses his Twitter account after receiving abuse on social media.

He joins a host of individuals across the men’s and women’s professional game who have been targeted.

Reece James, Marcus Rashford and Lauren James have all received abuse on social media
Reece James, Marcus Rashford and Lauren James have all received abuse on social media (Rui Vieira/Martin Rickett/PA)

Arteta said he prefers not to read anything about himself on social media after flagging abuse aimed at him and his family to Arsenal.

“I think if we would be reading everything that is written about us, probably we’d have to stay in bed a lot of days,” he said.

“I think we are all exposed in this industry to that and that’s why I prefer not to read because it would affect me personally much more the moment somebody wants to touch my family.

“Because it happened, the club was aware of it and we tried to do something about it. And that’s it. We have to live with it.

“It is not going to stop tomorrow, we know that, but medium, long-term can we do something about it? That’s what I am pushing for.”

Football’s leaders have send an open letter to social media companies calling on them to do more to stamp out abuse following the spate of recent incidents.

Manchester United players Marcus Rashford, Axel Tuanzebe, Anthony Martial and Lauren James are among those who have been the targets of racist abuse on social media, along with West Brom’s Romaine Sawyers and Chelsea defender Reece James – Lauren’s brother.

Newcastle boss Steve Bruce said on Thursday he had been made aware of social media users wishing him dead, while referee Mike Dean asked not to officiate a Premier League game this weekend after he and his family received death threats.

Steve Bruce revealed he had received messages wishing him dead
Steve Bruce revealed he had received messages wishing him dead (Clive Brunskill/PA)

Although Arteta did not specify when the abuse about him was written, his Arsenal side went through a sticky patch of form before Christmas where there was more of an online clamour for him to be sacked.

Arteta said he could deal with the abuse and that it is “part of the job”, but was firmer when asked if it was different when it came to protecting those around him.

“We are lucky enough as well that the club is very supportive, we do what we have to do when those things happened,” he said.

“It isn’t going to go tomorrow, but medium and long-term can we do something about it to protect more the people who are involved in the game and in other industries where it happens the same way.

“I am not the only one who is suffering these kind of things, I think when you are winning everything is beautiful and you are incredible and you are the best coach and when you lose it is the complete opposite.

“That is the reality and it is not pleasant. When it goes personal against me I can take it but when the family is involved then it is a different story.”

Meanwhile, Bruce’s son Alex has revealed the level of abuse his father has received through social media accounts belonging to he and his sister.

Steve Bruce (right) and son Alex
Steve Bruce (right) and son Alex (Tim Goode/PA)

He told talkSPORT: “Honestly, some of the stuff is brutal, I have to be honest. I think as bad as I’ve seen recently is, ‘Your dad’s a ****, I hope he dies of Covid’. That’s probably as bad as it gets.

“That’s the kind of stuff you get on a regular basis, and we’re not talking about one or two. It’s disgusting some of the stuff you see.

“It’s just so easy for an idiot to sit behind a computer or a telephone and abuse someone. It’s just not right.”

The former defender said his father, who does not use social media, was not aware of the comments until the last week.

He added: “It was the stuff with Mike Dean, actually. We saw it the other night and we were having a conversation about it and we just got on the topic.

“’Well, the levels of abuse you get, Dad, online through myself or through my sister, some of the stuff that’s said about you is disgusting, so you get plenty of it as well’, and it went from there, really.”

Crystal Palace forward Wilfried Zaha – who has himself been subjected to online abuse – feels the symbolic gesture of taking the knee before matches has become “degrading” because of a lack of meaningful change.

Speaking to the On The Judy podcast, Zaha said: “The whole kneeling down – why must I kneel down for you to show that we matter? Why must I even wear Black Lives Matter on the back of my top to show you that we matter? This is all degrading stuff.

“All these platforms – you see what’s happening, you see people making fake accounts to abuse black people constantly, but you don’t change it.

“Change it. All that stuff that you lot are doing, all these charades mean nothing.”

In League One, Blackpool and Burton issued a joint statement after their midweek game was called off, saying a “malicious” post to Burton’s Twitter account had been reported to the police, adding: “Both clubs strongly condemn the contents of the message”.

Manchester City manager Pep Guardiola has suggested national governments may need to step in if social media companies do not clamp down on the problem.

Guardiola said: “Maybe Twitter, as a system, should control it a little bit and ban, cancel the accounts when someone is accused of something like this. It is disgraceful, we know that.

“Maybe Twitter, or the governments you have to involve. It’s rising again and more and more.”