English Premier League football club Arsenal, who suffered an embarrassing 2-0 loss to Premiership new boys Brentford on Friday, has issued a three-year stadium ban on one of their season-ticket holders who was accused of “inciting violence” against Granit Xhaka, the Gunners’ Swiss midfielder.
Subject to appeal, the sanction pertains to alleged online abuse directed towards Xhaka including discriminatory abuse against a player of Arsenal’s north London arch-rivals Tottenham Hotspur. The social media platform on which the abuse took place was not directly named.
The negative effects of online abuse, discrimination and racism have led sporting bodies to consider steps at combating the menace. The sanction came with a message from Arsenal that they have updated their club guidelines to reflect online misconduct, as well as incidents that take place at the Emirates Stadium.
The statement from the club about this read: “We can confirm that we have officially instigated club-sanction proceedings against one Arsenal season-ticket holder who incited violence towards Granit Xhaka and discriminatory abuse towards a Tottenham Hotspur player on social media.
“A three-year stadium ban has been imposed on the individual, subject to appeal. This disciplinary action is in line with our sanctions guidance, which has recently been updated to include online offences as well as those committed in the stadium.”
Arsenal is involved in the #StopOnlineAbuse campaign that was launched in March and attempts to draw a line between expressing a point of view and being abusive online. The Emirates club has also committed to publicising when bans are issued and sharing this information with other clubs as deterrence.
Part of the campaign has seen Arsenal directly encourage their supporters to report abuse wherever it occurs so that a proper investigation can be conducted by the relevant authorities.
Recall that the spate of online abuse in recent times has risen and there has been an equal rise in the determined fight to meet the challenge by sensitising the public to join the cause and by piling pressure on the social media platforms to make it easier to identify abusers to act as a deterrence against continued abusive behaviours.
Individuals, such as Argentine and Paris Saint-Germain football icon, Lionel Messi, and corporate bodies, such as all the football bodies in the UK, and the Federazione Italiana Giuoco Calcio, the Italian Football Association, are making efforts to keep the fight strong and keep the social media platforms under enough pressure to bring about reforms that can help checkmate the evils of online abuse.