Bukayo Saka interview: Arsenal star reveals racist abuse ahead of social media boycott

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

Arsenal winger Bukayo Saka has became the latest footballer to reveal he has suffered racist abuse online this season.

As English sport prepares to unite for an unprecedented boycott of social media this weekend, Saka has called on Facebook, Twitter and Instagram to do more to combat abuse and discrimination on their platforms.

The social media firms are under pressure ahead of the boycott, which starts from 3pm tomorrow and has grown into a wider movement since it was launched by English football last week. Both cricket and rugby have announced they will join the blackout, along with the Lawn Tennis Association.

Broadcasters BT Sport, Sky Sports, talkSPORT and DAZN have also confirmed their social media accounts will fall silent from 3pm tomorrow until 11.59pm on Monday.

Saka believes it is "too easy" for trolls to "get away with" discrimination and says players are waiting for "actions" from social media companies.

Asked if he has suffered abuse this season, the 19-year-old England international said: "Yeah, of course. I experienced discrimination online. I think every player does. It is very easy for someone to just do it and get away with it. But I am happy that the club [Arsenal] are taking the right measures to try to put a stop to it. I think we are taking a step in the right direction with what we are doing to stop online abuse.

"For me, I don't let it really affect me, because I try not to look too much into it or read too much into it. I know that someone has the time of day to racially abuse me and stuff like this, so I try not to stoop down to their level. I don't let it affect me too much.

"I actually spoke to Tyrone [Mings] the other day. He put some story on Instagram, someone just racially abused him casually like it is normal. He just put it on his story and I texted him to say, 'It's a joke, it is too easy for this to happen and something needs to be done'. He was saying, 'We are trying everything. We are trying to speak'. There is a lot being said, it is just the actions we want to see now."

Saka, who was named Young Player of the Year at the London Football Awards on Tuesday night, has praised players past and present for speaking out as the battle against racism continues.

"There are a lot of players, staff and ex-players trying to use their platform to be powerful," he said. "But we just want to see some more action, more action from the companies and that they agree with us and they're on the same page as us. I think that is all we want to see at this point."

Scottish football will also take part in the boycott, which comes after former Arsenal striker Thierry Henry last month removed himself from all social media because of racism and bullying across platforms.

Sports company adidas, which manufactures more than a third of Premier League kits, is stopping all advertising across its platforms this weekend and Budweiser, which sponsors the England team, has also signed up.

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