MANCHESTER, England (AP) — Manchester United says it is disgusted by the online racial abuse targeted at players Axel Tuanzebe and Anthony Martial following their 2-1 home loss to last-placed Sheffield United.
The perpetrators were “anonymous mindless idiots,” Man United said on Thursday in a statement.
Sheffield United’s winning goal on Wednesday at Old Trafford in the English Premier League struck Tuanzebe’s outstretched leg and went in off the underside of the crossbar. Abuse targeting the players, who are both Black, included racist terms and emojis on their most recent Instagram posts.
“Everyone at Manchester United is disgusted by the racial abuse received by players via social media after last night’s game,” the team said without identifying the players.
“We utterly condemn it and it is encouraging to see other fans condemn this on social media also.”
The club said it has “zero tolerance” of any form of racism or discrimination.
“Identifying these anonymous mindless idiots remains problematic. We urge social media platforms and regulatory authorities to strengthen measures to prevent this kind of behavior.“
Captain Harry Maguire was among the supportive voices online, saying “UNITED against racism. We will not tolerate it.”
Tuanzebe on Thursday re-posted the team’s “United Against Racism” message on his Instagram Stories. Martial has not commented.
The players’ union called the abuse “unacceptable” and encouraged players to press charges if possible.
“The accounts of those sending the messages must be banned. Their details need to be provided to the appropriate authorities to take further action,” the Professional Footballers Association said in a statement.
“Systemic racism causes trauma, and footballers are not immune by virtue of their profession,” the PFA added. “Players’ mental health can be affected by racial abuse and the impact of wider racial prejudice in society.”
United next plays at Arsenal on Saturday.