English Premier League side Brentford is “disgusted and saddened” by “abusive racist messages” received by star player Ivan Toney following Saturday’s match against London rival Arsenal, according to a statement released by the club.
Toney, who scored the controversial equalizer against Arsenal in the 1-1 league draw, “received a barrage of abusive, racist direct messages via his Instagram account,” Brentford said on Sunday.
“We are disgusted and saddened that Ivan has had to deal with this yet again. We will not tolerate it and we will do everything we can to pursue the individuals involved.
“We call on football fans everywhere to relish the competition and rivalry that exists between us, but to respect and embrace our differences and celebrate the diversity that exists throughout the Premier League. There is no room for racism.”
Kick It Out, an organization dedicated to combating discrimination in football, condemned the alleged abuse to which Toney has been subjected, saying Sunday in a series of tweets: “We are disgusted by this abhorrent racism and will continue to work with partners across football to ensure that swift and appropriate action is taken against anyone responsible for perpetrating discriminatory abuse.
“We are disappointed to be commenting on more social media abuse but this vile, shameful behaviour has to end. No one should be expected to deal with any form of discrimination, let alone the continued barrage of racism that Ivan Toney has been subjected to.
“This incident shows once again why social media companies must introduce meaningful reforms that protect those who play, watch and work in football. That includes a default option for hate filters being ‘on’, meaning people only see that content if they switch the filter ‘off.’
“We urge the government to act swiftly to pass legislation that protects people from online abuse.”
In a statement sent to CNN on Monday, Meta, which owns Instagram, Facebook and WhatsApp, condemned the racist abuse directed at Toney on social media.
“We don’t want racist abuse on Instagram, and sending messages like this is completely against our rules,” a Meta spokesperson told CNN.
“DMs are private spaces, which means we can only review or take action if someone reports a message to us in-app, so we really encourage people to report.
“We also help protect people from having to see this abuse in the first place through our Hidden Words feature which filters offensive comments and DMs, and we recently started turning this on by default for people with creator accounts,” Meta said.
“We know racist abuse can’t be eradicated overnight, but we’ll continue working closely with players to help them use these tools, and respond quickly to valid legal requests to support police investigations,” the spokesperson added.
CNN has also reached out to Twitter and TikTok for comment.
Meanwhile, Arsenal pledged solidarity with Toney, saying on Twitter on Sunday: “We stand with Ivan Toney and are working with Brentford to identify those who sent racist abuse. At Arsenal we condemn all forms of discrimination and take a zero-tolerance approach. We will apply the strongest possible action to anyone we can identify sending hateful messages.”
Brentford said Toney was subjected to similar abuse on social media in October, and as a result “the perpetrator is now facing the consequences in court.”