Postgame frustration turned ugly after Manchester United’s 1-1 draw with Wolverhampton in the English Premier League on Monday, when a missed penalty kick led to an onslaught of racist criticism followed by calls for change to social media practices and policies.
The Premier League, which kicked off a new season this month, has already faced several incidents of racial targeting and abuse of players online, but Monday’s episode involved the biggest name yet: Paul Pogba.
In the second half of Monday’s match, Pogba, Manchester United’s star midfielder who has had a rocky relationship with the club’s gargantuan fan base, had a chance to put his team ahead with a penalty kick. But the French international failed to convert from the spot, and the Red Devils finished with a disappointing tie against the Wanderers.
Afterward, Pogba was targeted with criticism online, some of it racial. Manchester United released a statement Monday night condemning the abuse and vowing to take action.
“We will work to identify the few involved in these incidents and take the strongest course of action available to us,” the team said. “We also encourage social media companies to take action in these cases.”
Club officials weren’t the only ones to call for social media companies to respond. Newly arrived United defender Harry Maguire, a star for the English national team, said social media needed to “do something” about the abuse Pogba and others have received.
“Every account that is opened should be verified by a passport/driving license,” he tweeted. “Stop these pathetic trolls making numerous accounts to abuse people.”
United forward Marcus Rashford also weighed in, saying, “You attack [Pogba], you attack us all.”
Last week, Chelsea condemned “abhorrent posts” that targeted young forward Tammy Abraham after he, too, failed to convert a penalty kick.
“We are disgusted with the abhorrent posts we have seen on social media,” a club spokesman said. “Chelsea FC finds all forms of discriminatory behaviour unacceptable. It has no place at this club and where there is clear evidence of Chelsea season ticket holders or members involved in such behaviour, we will take the strongest possible action against them.”
Read more on soccer: