Arsenal’s Willian fearful of looking at phone after matches and considered deleting social media after abuse

Simon Collings
·3-min read
 (Arsenal FC via Getty Images)
(Arsenal FC via Getty Images)

Arsenal forward Willian has called on the authorities to do more in football’s fight against racism and online abuse.

Willian, like many players, has suffered abuse this season, being targeted with racist messages on social media back in February.

The Brazilian has now opened up on the pain that caused him, particularly messages that were directed at his family.

Willian explained how the abuse has made him fearful of looking at his phone after matches, while he said he considered deleting his social media accounts.

The 32-year-old has praised Arsenal for their efforts in combating racism and abuse - and has now called on the authorities to do more, too.

“We as players, we cannot do a lot. We do what we can do. We report it. We share it with you guys and we speak about that, but we want action,” he said.

“To change it, we need action and we as a player, can do what we can do. We need the authorities to do the action, so that’s it.

“I think we have to try [to find] a way to stop it because it is difficult when people say horrible words about you, about your family, that’s not good.

“They can criticise us in relation to what we do on the pitch. I have no problem with that, no problem at all.

“If they want to criticise me, what I am doing on the pitch, if I have to play better, if I have to train more - yes, I will accept that. But when they come to attack you with horrible words, your family, that’s not good. So we have to stop it.

“I was in that situation a month ago, I don’t remember exactly. It was very difficult for me.

“After that, I say to myself that enough is enough. You have to try something to take action on racism, online abuse, and I am proud because the club are doing that. They are helping us a lot. I will never stop my fight against racism.”

Getty Images
Getty Images

Asked how racism and online abuse could be combatted, Willian suggested making social media users prove their identity before they can open an account.

Other players and managers have put forward similar proposals, with the idea being users would then be easily identifiable and accountable.

“It really affects me when they say about my family,” said Willian.

“As I said before, if they want to criticise me, it’s no problem, I always accept that. But when they come to attack your family with those words that I cannot say here, that hurts. That really affects me. It’s a big problem.

“Straight away, I want to delete my social media accounts. I have seen some people are deleting their social media because of racism and the abuse.

“We are human. I want to understand who these people think they are to come to speak like that to us.

“We are professional. We do the best to help the team, we always want to win, we never want to lose.

“So sometimes you are not on a good day, you have a bad day and they come and say these kind of words that hurt you. That’s why we want to stop it. Enough is enough.”

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