In March this year, we outlined our #StopOnlineAbuse action plan to ensure we are fulfilling our responsibility to protect our players and our diverse global family.
We are encouraged by the level of support we have received from our fans and the work being done by the wider football community to stamp out online abuse. However, it’s clear from recent events and the findings from the PFA study released last week that online abuse remains a stain on our game that we must continue to fight with all our collective power.
Since we launched our #StopOnlineAbuse action plan we have been working hard behind the scenes internally and with the relevant stakeholders and authorities to take further action.
As we prepare for the Premier League kick off with fans returning to stadiums, we can now outline below some of the steps we are taking.
Sanctions for abusers
We can confirm that we have officially instigated club sanction proceedings against one Arsenal season ticket holder who incited violence towards Granit Xhaka and discriminatory abuse towards a Tottenham Hotspur player on social media. A three-year stadium ban has been imposed on the individual, subject to appeal. This disciplinary action is in-line with our sanctions guidance, which has recently been updated to include online offences as well as those committed in the stadium.
Our updated sanctions guidance is also aligned to those announced this week by the Premier League. In addition to alignment on sanctions, we are also committing to publicise bans and share information about banned individuals with other clubs, further demonstrating our commitment to work with all stakeholders in the fight against all forms of discrimination.
Identifying anonymous abusers
For cases of online abuse that come from anonymous social media accounts, it can be been difficult to identify the perpetrators. We are now working with data technology company Signify whose sophisticated Threat Matrix technology helps us identify those who send abuse while hiding behind the cloak of anonymity. This technology is a game-changer in helping us take meaningful action against those who can be identified.
We are in the process of running the social media abuse received by Bukayo Saka following the Euro 2020 final through the technology and will provide updates in due course. We are liaising with the police on this incident.
Let us be clear, we will take the strongest appropriate action against abusers who are identified as Arsenal season ticket holders or members. We will also escalate cases to the relevant authorities, including the police, where appropriate.
How can fans report abuse?
We must work together if we are to make progress in our fight against discrimination and abuse. We are working in unison with our own supporters’ groups on this crucial issue and we are pleased to see the FSA and fan groups up and down the country uniting behind the #BlowTheWhistleOnAbuse campaign which encourages supporters to report abuse when they see it.
If you experience or witness discrimination at a football match at any level, or on social media, you can report it to Kick It Out through their online reporting form or via their reporting app available on both iOS and Android. You can report hate crimes to your local police force here and you can also report posts to the respective social media channels by using the following links: Facebook | Instagram | Twitter | TikTok | Snapchat | YouTube
We encourage everyone to play their part in fighting all forms of discrimination and abuse.
Our ongoing work
We’re once again reminding our players of the support network available to them within the club and how to report online abuse, so they understand the action they can take if they identify or receive discriminatory language or threats of violence.
We’re also continuing our dialogue with social media companies to ensure we keep the pressure on them to do more and introduce strong legislation and active assistance for law enforcement agencies to identify and prosecute abusers.
Our own work in the community continues through a variety of inclusive projects including our education programme, What Can I Do? This programme gives us a chance to listen and understand the reality of some of the challenges faced by many young people, particularly in our black community and identify positive actions we can all take to be anti-racist.
For in stadium offences, we’re continuing the ongoing education of match day staff to recognise and address abusive conduct. Our updated ground regulations and ticketing terms and conditions for this season also strengthen our legal authority to take appropriate action against perpetrators, including stadium bans.
We know our work is far from over, but we move forward focussed and undeterred in our fight against all forms of discrimination.
Thank you for your support.
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