Morgan Whittaker has admitted he wasn’t surprised to be racially abused on Instagram – he was actually expecting it.
The Swansea City striker became the fourth player from the Championship club to be racially abused this season via social media, and it came during the official Football League blackout.
Having scored a vital goal in the win over relegation threatened Derby County last weekend, his former club, Whittaker said he was “buzzing”. Then came the horrible realisation that his goal had sparked a terrible reaction.
“I was buzzing from the game and my goal, but my girlfriend told me afterwards there was a not very nice message on Instagram,” explained Whittaker.
“I wasn’t shocked at all, it’s got to the stage where I was almost expecting it. Jamal Lowe had said I’m probably going to get racist abuse.
“I can’t go into the details because it’s now with the police, but it wasn’t nice. It was about my heritage and my skin colour.
“Instagram say they have tools now to protect people, but I don’t think they are protecting anyone. It was from a fake account that would have been set up in minutes and even the user name itself had a racist word in it.
“I’m the fourth Swansea player to have had this happen to him this season, which is just incredible.”
Swansea boss Steve Cooper was full of praise for the mature way in which his young striker dealt with the upset – and with the way his team mates rallied around him. Not that it was anything new to the play-offs bound squad.
Whittaker was the latest player to have been racially abused via social media this season following on from Yann Dhanda, Jamal Lowe and Ben Cabango.
“We’ve had four unsavoury incidents this season which have been hurtful. It’s too common and it shouldn’t even happen once,” said Cooper.
“It’s a real reminder that there is still a big problem of this kind, particularly in football. Morgan has been very mature and professional.
“He’s fine and I’m very proud of how he’s reacted. I saw the screenshots of the abuse he received and it’s awful really what some people say.
“He’s taken it very seriously, but he’s trained well and I’ve spoken to him on a daily basis about everything.
We will continue to fight for what’s right and we are proud to have made a stand against social media abuse✊🏾 pic.twitter.com/EL2JhDKkcX
— Morgan Whittaker (@morganwhit10) April 15, 2021
“It’s a reminder that this is still a really big problem and that we’ve got to keep doing our bit. It is bit by bit and we’ve got a long way to go.”
A spokesperson for Facebook, which owns Instagram, said in a statement to Sky Sports News: “Morgan didn’t report the DMs he received in-app, and so far we’ve been unable to review them and take action.
“Because DMs are private spaces, we don’t proactively look for hate speech the same way we do elsewhere – and we need permission to review content there.
“That’s why we have given public figures the option to not receive messages from people they don’t know – and we are rolling out the new tool which, when turned on, will automatically filter DM requests containing offensive words, phrases and emojis, so you never have to see them.”
Whittaker says he is disappointed to have received the messages during the boycott and believes Government intervention is the best way to tackling the problem.
“It’s a hard question, we’ll boycott it for a weekend and obviously it’s not worked with the messages I was sent. All the biggest teams and players went on the boycott and it still hasn’t worked,” he continued.
“Maybe not doing it for a weekend but for a month or longer? The more money social media companies lose out on is the only way we are going to get to them.
“The only option we have left is (relying on the government). Really they are the only ones who can do anything for us. It’s what we have left to try.”
The Football Association has called on the Government to introduce legislation to compel social media companies to do more to stop online abuse following the sport community’s four-day boycott.