Yan Dhanda: Social media firms ‘adding fire to hate’ says Swansea midfielder


Swansea City attacking midfielder Yan Dhanda
Dhanda is one of a handful of British Asians currently playing professional football in the United Kingdom

Swansea City attacking midfielder Yan Dhanda says the lack of action taken by social media companies over online abuse is giving people “the green light to go and do it again”.

Facebook has temporarily stopped the user from sending Instagram messages.

“They’re just adding fire to the hate and proving to the racist people they can get away with it,” said Dhanda.

Having played 77 minutes of Manchester City’s 3-1 victory at the Liberty Stadium on Wednesday, Dhanda said he was sent the racist abuse following a challenge on Spanish midfielder Rodri.

The matter was reported to South Wales Police, who are continuing investigations while Swansea have criticised Facebook’s response.

Facebook, which owns Instagram, has not revealed how long the account concerned will be stopped from sending messages, but said people deserve a chance to learn from their errors.

“We do not want racism and hate on our platforms,” a Facebook spokesperson said.

“The person who sent this message has been restricted from sending messages on Instagram for a set period of time, and we will remove new accounts created to get around this restriction.

“We think it’s important people have the opportunity to learn from their mistakes but, per the new measures put in place this week, if they continue to break our rules this account will be removed.”

Speaking to BBC Sport about the action taken by the social media company, Dhanda said: “I was actually quite shocked, hurt and disappointed.

“You see these social media companies advertising ‘No To Racism’, ‘Kick it Out’, but, when push comes to shove and it’s the reality of people sending racist messages, they are actually doing next to nothing.

“I believe they’ve banned the guy that racially abused me from sending messages for a couple of days but they’ve not taken his account off him or gone any further than that.”

Footballers including Manchester United’s Marcus Rashford, Axel Tuanzebe and Lauren James, West Brom’s Romaine Sawyers and Chelsea full-back Reece James have been sent abusive online messages in recent weeks.

Before Dhanda joined the list of players targeted, Facebook said it was “horrified” by the continued online abuse of players.

Newcastle United manager Steve Bruce revealed he has received “vile” online death threats, while Premier League referee Mike Dean notified police after his family received death threats.

Dhanda believes there should be a verification process for users on social media to make them accountable for their comments.

He added: “Banning someone from sending messages for a few days just proves that these people that are sending the racist messages know there is actually no real punishment.

“They get a slap on the wrist, and then they can go back to saying and doing whatever they want to hurt people’s feelings and making people think negatively about themselves.

“Social media companies have to realise that what they are doing is nothing but giving the people who are sending the abuse the green light just to go and do it again.”

Racist abuse ‘upset me much more than I actually thought it would have’

Former England Under-17 international Dhanda, who hails from the West Midlands, is one of a handful of British Asians currently playing professional football in the United Kingdom.

The ex-Liverpool youngster, whose father Jaz was born in England to Indian parents, spoke earlier this season about the racist abuse he faced as a youngster.

He said the abuse he received this time around affected him “much more than I actually thought it would have”.

“There’s no excuse to send racist messages but the thing that got me down the most was that there are so few Asian players in football,” said Dhanda.

“Everyone at Swansea, the staff and players, have been very supportive. I couldn’t ask for any more from them, but it’s not their fault they’re not the same as me and can’t feel the pain I’m feeling.

“That’s what upset me the most – not having anyone there to actually speak to who was the same as me. But I’ve got my family and girlfriend and, once I spoke to them, I felt much better.”

Some of football’s governing bodies have written a joint letter to Facebook and Twitter urging the companies to “accept responsibility for preventing abuse” and “go further than you have promised to do to date” in the wake of a number of abusive messages aimed at footballers in recent weeks.

“They [social media companies] do have to take into account the amount of people that think negatively about themselves, go into depression and even have suicidal thoughts just because of the trolls on social media saying abusive stuff just because they can,” added Dhanda.

“It made me upset and really did hurt my feelings and I’m not scared to say that.

“It’s easy to say stay strong and positive but on Wednesday it did have a big effect on me. I was upset and angry, which I think it is OK to be.

“Then, it’s about channelling my anger and how upset I am into almost proving these people wrong and using it as fuel to push me on to the next level.

“That’s all I can do because I love playing football and playing for Swansea.

“I’m not going to let this person sending me abuse win.”

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