Nottingham Forest, Arsenal and Manchester United legend Viv Anderson said it is “shameful” that players are encountering more racism than ever. He accused the Government and social media giants of failing a generation of footballers by doing nothing to stop the abuse. Viv, who was capped 30 times for his country, called on the authorities to hit online trolls in the pocket with “massive fines”.
He also said social media companies should be punished for giving racists a platform to spout their abuse.
The Three Lions pioneer praised stars including Marcus Rashford and Raheem Sterling for highlighting the problem. Viv, 64, who also played for Sheffield Wednesday, Barnsley and Middlesbrough, called the abuse “disgraceful”.
The defender played in the 1970s and 1980s when racism on the terraces was rife.
Fans made monkey noises at him while other players including Liverpool’s John Barnes were pelted with bananas.
Viv said: “I went to Newcastle when playing for Nottingham Forest. It was probably my third game, in a League Cup tie.
“The abuse I got, just walking out on the pitch before the game, was so severe I had to go back into the dressing room.
“I told the manager, Brian Clough, that I don’t think I can play tonight.
“He said straight away, ‘Don’t even go down that route, you are playing.’ So I just had to get on with it. There was no escape.” Nottingham-born Viv says today’s black players have it even harder because the racist abuse is constant on social media.
He said: “In my day you could look at the person abusing you and say, ‘I can see your face’.
“Now they are just hiding under different accounts, on different social media platforms.
“During my day the abuse was confined to the stadium, and once I left the pitch it finished. For today’s players there is no getting away from it.”
Viv said companies such as Twitter, Facebook and Instagram should face cash penalties for not stopping the abuse. He added: “If they are constantly having to pay out big fines they will soon bring people into line.”
Instagram has announced it will ban people who send racist abuse.