Arsenal midfielder Granit Xhaka has hit out at people who abuse footballers online and insists the culprits ‘aren’t supporters’ of the club.
Tackling the issue of online abuse has been a major story in recent weeks following a succession of incidents involving Premier League footballers, a number of names – including the likes of Manchester United forward Marcus Rashford and Chelsea’s Antonio Rudiger – having spoken out on the vile abuse received over social media channels.
Instagram recently responded to the calls for greater action to be taken and announced new measures, targeting direct messages and removing any accounts who spread hateful and discriminatory content.
Xhaka is one of a concerning number of names to have received abuse online and, ahead of Arsenal’s Europa League clash with Benfica tomorrow, has spoken out against those who have sent discriminatory messages, insisting no sender of online abuse is a genuine supporter of the north London side.
“As supporters of the club, they have to be here if we lose, if we draw or if we win,” said Xhaka at the pre-match press conference.
“They aren’t supporters of my club.
“I have said it before. You can criticise and say what you want about football but not about a person or a family.”
Xhaka admits the abuse comes during difficult periods of form with Arsenal having struggled for consistent results so far this season, and has warned the problem could ‘kill football’ unless greater action is taken against online abusers.
”The problem is only when you lose. It’s not a problem when you win. If you lose everyone hates you and is fighting you. It’s not possible to understand how they can write something like this.
“I wish I could meet these people who write these things, sit with them, eyes by eyes and ask ‘why are you writing these things’?”
“Not for me personally, only to know what they are feeling when they write things like this.
“We have to open our eyes and go back to this a lot because then you kill football, if people start to speak about a player or their families on things like this.”