Twitter may not cope with World Cup abuse, says Kick It Out chair | Twitter

The chair of the anti-discrimination body Kick It Out has voiced fears that Twitter will be unable to cope with online abuse during the football World Cup, after a wave of job losses at the social media platform.

Sanjay Bhandari said he was deeply concerned by reports of cuts in the trust and safety team at Twitter, as well as the departure of the executive in charge of the department.

“I am deeply concerned that the reduction in the trust and safety team and the departure of the leader of that team will be taken as a bright green light for hate,” said Bhandari. “I fear that industrial-scale levels of hate during the World Cup will go unchecked by Twitter.”

Elon Musk, the new owner of Twitter, axed approximately 50% of Twitter’s 7,500-strong workforce this month. In the wake of the firings, Twitter’s head of trust and safety, Yoel Roth, said 15% of his team had been let go.

Roth left the company soon after. Last weekend, more than 4,000 Twitter contractors, including people who worked on content moderation, reportedly had their roles terminated.

Overnight, there were reports of widespread resignations among the remaining 3,700 staff at Twitter after Musk set a 10pm GMT deadline for workers to commit to being “extremely hardcore” or else leave with three months’ severance pay.

Bhandari said moderation on Twitter had been “been opaque, inconsistent and understaffed at the best of times”, and he was concerned that the platform would struggle to cope with a rise in user engagement among football fans after the World Cup begins on Sunday.

Before Roth departed, he said, Twitter had been subjected to a coordinated trolling campaign that bombarded the platform with abusive content in an apparent attempt to convince users that it had relaxed content guidelines.

A recent study revealed that more than 300 abusive tweets a day are sent to Premier League footballers, and nearly seven in 10 players receive abuse on Twitter. The research by the Alan Turing Institute, the national institute for data science and artificial intelligence, found that 60,000 abusive tweets were directed towards Premier League players in the first half of last season.

One of the authors of the report said Twitter’s ability to deal with abuse of footballers could be affected by the jobs cuts.

“We are aware that Twitter are working with a smaller workforce,” said Pica Johansson, a researcher in the online safety team at the institute. “And there might be, for that reason, less ability for them to respond quickly to some of this type of abuse that we do see.”

The institute’s research found that less than 10% of the abusive tweets were identity attacks that referred to a protected characteristic such as race, gender or sexuality. However, Hannah Kirk, an online safety researcher at the institute, said racist or nationality-based abuse might be more prevalent at the World Cup.

“I envisage the big difference between the Premier League and the World Cup is global attention and also heightened awareness of nationalism, which potentially intensifies the stereotypical links between race and nation. We might then see a little bit more racism or nationality-directed abuse than we would in the Premier League,” Kirk said.

Nonetheless, the Football Association is confident it will be able to act if Twitter becomes a focus for abuse of its players, as it did during last year’s European championships.

Football bodies within England established a fast-track reporting system last year, and the FA has confirmed with Twitter that the same support will be available in the coming month and that resources will be made available for moderation.

The FA also uses third-party agencies to monitor for abuse and report on its behalf. This week, Fifa and the international players’ union Fifpro announced a similar scheme, a “social media protection service” (SMPS) that would be available to players in all 32 nations competing at the World Cup.

Allowing for the scanning and reporting of offensive content, the SMPS will also let players with social media accounts automatically hide comments that are judged offensive. This service will apply only to posts on Facebook, Instagram and YouTube, with Twitter understood to have been excluded from the process owing to technical issues.

Twitter has been approached for comment.

Rio Ferdinand: ‘Racism will be in players’ minds in high-pressure World Cup situations’ | Rio Ferdinand

“If you’re a black player who is a great penalty taker, like Ivan Toney, it will be on your mind,” Rio Ferdinand says as he anticipates the anxiety that may ripple through the England squad which flies to Qatar for the World Cup next week. “If Toney gets in the squad one of his first actions in the World Cup could be being brought on to take a penalty. There’s no doubt in my mind he’ll be thinking: ‘Shit, I know what happened to [Bukayo] Saka, [Jadon] Sancho and [Marcus] Rashford.’”

Those young black footballers missed penalties in the shootout which secured Italy’s victory over England in the final of the European Championships last year. They suffered sustained racial abuse online in a depressing example of the way in which prejudice is still rife. Ferdinand, who won 81 caps for England and played in two World Cups, has spent the last few years immersed in making a trilogy of films. Two documentaries about racism and sexuality consider how to overcome the bigotry which scars football while the third explores the consequences for mental health in a game which Ferdinand believes has reached a “tipping point”.

The World Cup will feature heavily on social media’s febrile platforms and Ferdinand knows that more hate and prejudice is likely. “That’s why the rules need to be changed to allow players to feel there aren’t repercussions from a racial standpoint if they fail, or make a mistake,” he says. “But at the moment the laws aren’t in place to protect players. So I definitely think that will be in the back of players’ minds going into high-pressure World Cup situations. It’s not just England. All players of colour around the world will be thinking that.”

England’s manager Gareth Southgate embraces Bukayo Saka after the player’s missed penalty in the final of Euro 2020.
England’s manager Gareth Southgate embraces Bukayo Saka after the player’s missed penalty in the final of Euro 2020. Photograph: Tom Jenkins/The Guardian

An Online Safety Bill could take another two years to be ratified. In the meantime, as Ferdinand reiterates, social media companies have the means to block and expose racist and homophobic abuse. “The problem is that they rely on toxic behaviour and hate speech so they won’t quash that element,” he says. “Racism and all forms of discrimination are welcomed on social media because that interaction equals more advertising money. We saw with Covid that if a message needs putting out on social media there are algorithms and technology for these companies to make a difference. But they can’t tackle discrimination. So it shows there is no real intention to change. We spoke to [the social media giants] but you get wishy-washy feedback: ‘Yeah, we’re trying all we can.’ No, you’re not.”

In a powerful section of his documentary on racism, Ferdinand meets technology experts at a data company called Signify and they show him how easy it is to trace abusive messages and to identify the people responsible for those postings. They are even able to pinpoint where such racists live and work. Ferdinand shared some of their findings with the Football Policing Unit and, so far, 12 cases of racist hate crime are being investigated.

Signify also suggests that 50% of online racial abuse relating to football is aimed at three players: Raheem Sterling, Wilfred Zaha and Adebayo Akinfenwa who retired in May. Ferdinand meets Zaha and Akinfenwa and they agree to join a WhatsApp group of socially conscious footballers he formed with Romelu Lukaku. Ferdinand is emphatic that, as shown by the ability of NBA stars such as LeBron James and Chris Paul to confront racism in the US, the real power lies with current players who have the fame and social media followings to force governing bodies to take action.

Adebayo Akinfenwa, pictured in May 2022.
Adebayo Akinfenwa, pictured in May 2022, was one of the players who spoke to Rio Ferdinand. Photograph: Tom Jenkins/The Guardian

“More than just highlighting the issues again we wanted to make a solution-based documentary,” Ferdinand says. “I’m not stupid enough to think a documentary is going to end these issues. But the fact we’ve been in parliament lobbying and we’re now going to board meetings at the Premier League means we’re at those decision-making tables, bringing current players and ex-players together to talk.”

Ferdinand meets Richard Masters, the Premier League’s chief executive, to stress that occasional campaigns and statements of support are not enough to combat bigotry in football. “By the time the documentaries are available I will have been at a Premier League board meeting to discuss these issues. The ball’s rolling now but it’s not about me. I want to kick that door open and say ‘come on’ to the current players because they know the problems. They’re living and breathing them every day. So they need to be heard.”

Does Masters share Ferdinand’s desire to involve current players in the battle against racism? “The fact that he’s invited me to the board meeting is a step in the right direction. But he needs to prove himself. Far too often we’ve had people in these positions engage in tokenism and box-ticking exercises. I hope he and the Premier League are true to their word.”

Ferdinand is in close communication about racism with “over 50 current players from around Europe and England. We are going to the stakeholders within the game to discuss meaningful action.”

Sexuality is an area where Ferdinand is less familiar when campaigning against prejudice. He should be commended, however, for facing up to his own past homophobia. In the second documentary he visits his sister, Remi, who is gay, and he plays her an audio clip in which he is heard using homophobic language during a 2006 interview with Chris Moyles. A reminder of that embarrassing behaviour had been sent to Ferdinand when, on Twitter, he asked why no Premier League footballer has ever come out as gay.

“That [interview] was done so long ago and culture and language is very different now,” he says. “Yes, it was an awkward scene to shoot but my sister obviously knows how genuine I am around sexuality. She recognises the strides I’ve made since she told me and my brother, Anton, and our dad, how hard she found it to hear some of the language used when we were growing up. So it was difficult for me to admit it but that vulnerability probably makes other people think: ‘That was me as well.’ It shows a way out to the other side [of homophobia] as long as you educate yourself and have empathy.”

Rio Ferdinand (left) comes up against his brother Anton while playing for Manchester United against West Ham in 2006.
Rio Ferdinand (left) comes up against his brother Anton while playing for Manchester United against West Ham in 2006. Photograph: John Peters/Manchester United/Getty Images

In another revealing moment Ferdinand asks whether it is acceptable to participate in “banter”, which borders on homophobia, in straight company. He quickly shuts down the suggestion as totally unacceptable. “It’s mad to even ask,” he says now. “If you asked the same question to do with race, you know it’s not right. Flip it to sexuality and why is it different? So for me this is definitely a learning experience.”

As part of that education process Ferdinand meets gay footballers at grassroots level, including players for Stonewall FC, as well as Collin Martin, in America, and Josh Cavallo in Australia. Alongside Jake Daniels, the teenager on Blackpool’s books, Martin and Cavallo are among the very few openly gay professionals currently playing in men’s football. Two years ago Landon Donovan, the former US international who manages San Diego Loyal, led his team off the pitch after Martin had been subjected to a homophobic slur. Ferdinand contrasts the praise Donovan received for standing up to prejudice with the fate of Darren Wildman, the academy head at Skelmersdale United in the Northern Premier League.

“Darren was at the low end of the pyramid as a coach and one of his players was abused about his sexuality. Homophobic words were said and Darren took his players off the pitch. He reported it to the referee but the other team wasn’t happy and all of a sudden his life changed because he was getting abuse. The FA then made him feel like he was the perpetrator when he was actually trying to protect his team and an individual player. He got banned and fined for abandoning the game. It’s unbelievable. When we saw him he was like a broken man.”

Wildman was told on Twitter that he should have been “gassed like the Jews” as antisemitism merged with homophobia.

“Look at Landon Donovan who was put up in lights, rightly so, for the way he handled the same situation,” Ferdinand says. “It was amazing to see his team walk off the pitch – but such a difference to what happened here.”

Jake Daniels of Blackpool is one of very few openly gay professionals in men’s football.
Jake Daniels of Blackpool is one of very few openly gay professionals in men’s football. Photograph: News Images/Alamy

What advice would Ferdinand offer if a gay Premier League footballer told him privately he was considering coming out? “I would say it very much depends on the network of people around you. A strong core of people can alleviate some of the pressure. It’s going to be difficult, and hard, but the experiences [of coming out] I’ve heard are very positive. I would say you will gain a lot but be prepared for it to be tough.”

It’s obvious why there are so many mental health issues surrounding football – particularly among young players released by professional academies. Eighty percent of those discarded players get depression and Ferdinand explains that of the 1.5m boys who play representative youth football in England only 180 make it to the Premier League. He describes the 0.012% rate as “crazy” and acknowledges the struggle his two teenage sons, who are at Brighton’s academy, face in their quest to play elite level football.

Ferdinand also meets some of his former West Ham academy teammates who were not lucky enough to match his success. “Lee Boylan is the one that stands out for me,” the 43-year-old says. “He played in the same team at West Ham as me and Frank Lampard. He was our top goalscorer in a youth team that won the league two years on the bounce. In the small town in Essex where he grew up he was a mini-superstar. But Lee didn’t make the first team at West Ham. He slips into depression, with massive anxiety, and breaks down. He never really recovers and you can see he’s still really scarred from that experience.”

Ferdinand invites all the leading academies to a forum to discuss how to deal with mental health problems among young players and he is disappointed when only four clubs attend. “They are very guarded around the media. But the subject matter should have overridden all of that.”

Each one of Ferdinand’s three documentaries faced the same problem. Whether trying to get footballers, their agents or clubs to discuss racism, sexuality and mental health, even a former player as famous as Ferdinand struggled to engender open conversations. “Trying to penetrate the ecosystem of football was so difficult. Even with my background in football, you could still see doors closing and people unwilling to talk. Agents getting in the way or players not wanting to talk because they have been on the receiving end of these issues. I was thinking; ‘What the hell? Why would you not want to be part of a process that is not just about highlighting the issue but trying to find solutions?’

“Zaha, Lukaku and Akinfenwa have had so much prejudice thrown at them. But they listened and asked good questions. As soon as they heard we were looking for solutions they wanted to be part of it. But there weren’t enough brave people like that.”

Rio Ferdinand’s Tipping Point is available on Amazon

Football must finally be brave enough to confront brutal facts of inequality | Football

According to the business guru Jim Collins, the journey from being a good organisation to becoming a great organisation is built on the willingness of leaders to confront the brutal facts. Productive change cannot happen without that foundation. How does football’s equality journey measure against that yardstick? Does football fully confront the brutal reality of inequality in the game? Do we honestly confront our uncomfortable truths or do we soothe ourselves with the balm of comfortable half-truths?

Recent data suggests that stubborn historical challenges remain. The Black Football Partnership revealed last week that only 4.4% of managers in England are black compared with 43% of Premier League and 34% of EFL players. PFA data shows that only 0.45% of professional footballers are South Asian (with about 0.9% in academies) despite 7-10% of the wider population of the UK being South Asian. These are just the most egregious statistical anomalies.

In the wake of the horrific killing of George Floyd in 2020, organisations raced to demonstrate their commitment to equality. Corralled by the FA, English football set up the Football Leadership Diversity Code (FLDC) with more than 50 clubs and organisations committing to achieve representation targets on race and gender for new recruits to senior leadership and coaching. It was a promise by football to address structural inequality. Two years on, how are they doing?

Judging by this year’s FLDC report, encouragingly the football authorities (the FA, the Premier League and the EFL) are leading by example, hitting seven out of eight targets. They deserve credit for keeping their side of the bargain. More worryingly, the clubs hit two out of eight targets. More must be done.

For many people from under-represented or minority communities, much of the last 50 years has been a depressing cycle of promises, raised hopes and disappointment. Football is at a crucial point and needs to make the right choices so the FLDC does not become the latest entry in a 50-year catalogue of missed opportunities, turning initial positive intent into resentment and distrust. If the collective energy and impetus generated by George Floyd’s death have run out already, what will drive sustained change?

The reflex may be to close ranks. But clubs need to confront the brutal facts. That requires courage and radical transparency.

QPR’s director of football, Les Ferdinand, pictured in June.
QPR’s director of football, Les Ferdinand, pictured in June. Photograph: Bryn Lennon/Getty Images

Much of the problem is systemic. Les Ferdinand, QPR’s director of football, revealed last week that he was sceptical of the FLDC because it was voluntary. I believe transparency is disinfectant. My experience in other industries is that exposing the reality of the data to public scrutiny drives change. The requirement to publish data on gender pay gap reporting or ethnic board representation has driven some change in corporate Britain. In discussions around setting the FLDC targets, I suggested that the game needed to provide full transparency of entire workforces (rather than snapshots of new recruits, which would give only a partial and potentially misleading picture).

Les and I faced the same underlying barriers. Because football is unregulated, no organisation in it has the legal power to mandate transparency reporting or set representation targets. All authorities in football are membership organisations so rule changes require the consent of the members (notably, the clubs). A common fear shared by clubs is the production of league tables showing those who are good and bad at diversity. The fear of being in the bottom half of any such table prevents a majority of clubs from agreeing to sufficiently challenging public transparency. It encourages the soothing balm of half-truth.

Fragmented and opaque data is endemic in football. It applies equally to discrimination reporting, recruitment shortlisting, talent development initiatives and root-cause analysis of fan behaviour (eg the use of cocaine at matches). For a game so proficient at generating data insight on the pitch, the absence of it in areas off the pitch is stark.

Football clubs are heritage community assets so should be accountable to those communities they purport to represent. The football authorities are administrators, not regulators. As part of the fan-led review into English football, we wrote to the Department for Digital, Culture, Media and Sport in September reinforcing our submissions that any independent regulator operating a club licensing system should have the power to oversee club governance. That would give any regulator powers equivalent to regulators in other industries. It could then create mandatory requirements around equality and inclusion. We urge the government to keep its promise to publish its white paper on the fan-led review swiftly and give the regulator the right powers.

Sanjay Bhandari, chair of Kick It Out, speaking at the EFL Trust conference this month.
Sanjay Bhandari speaking at the EFL Trust conference this month. Photograph: Paul Currie/Rex/Shutterstock

Regulation takes time. In the meantime, how can we know how far we have progressed on the journey to equity unless we know our starting point and the steps being taken to navigate that journey? Much of this data is already collected under the Premier League equality, diversity and inclusion standard and under FLDC – it is just not published. But collection without publication is like a secret promise to yourself that you will join the gym in the new year and finally lose that extra weight you have been carrying since last Christmas. It is far less likely to be kept than a promise made out loud to other people.

Football is uniquely powerful and can be a catalyst for social change. The FLDC cannot be allowed to become another wasted opportunity to create a game where everyone feels they belong.

Sanjay Bhandari is the chair of Kick It Out

‘We live in a difficult time’: Richarlison on racism and his anti-poverty drive | Football

Richarlison and his Brazil teammates could sense something unpleasant in the air as soon as their national anthem started at Parc des Princes. They were lining up for last month’s friendly against Tunisia and the scale of hostility from their opponents’ fans, effectively a home crowd, felt oddly heightened. “They started booing and cursing, so we already saw that something worse was to come,” the Tottenham forward says.

The players were proved right in the most depressing way possible. Richarlison was celebrating Brazil’s second goal in a 5-1 win when, among several objects thrown on to the pitch, a banana could clearly be seen falling in front of him from up in the stands. If a form of footballing justice was meted out in the eventual scale of the victory, it bore little comparison to the price that should be paid by individuals who blight sport and society with racism.

“The punishment needs to be more severe,” he says. “When that person threw the banana there, I ended up leaving it to the side and celebrating the goal with my teammates. I left it there and kept my focus on the pitch. But, as I said, this type of thing needs to be punished so that other people don’t do the same.”

It is a chilling image, captured clearly by camera footage inside the stadium, and presses home how far there is to go in erasing such mindless acts of cruelty. “We live in a difficult world, in a difficult era, where people don’t have respect for race, for religion, for politics, or whatever it may be,” Richarlison says.

The fact Brazil had posed before the game in Paris with a banner reading “Without our banners we wouldn’t have stars on our shirts” casts the incident in particularly stark relief. The gap between good intentions and happy consequences is yet to be fully bridged even if football is trying. Richarlison is speaking before last weekend’s round of fixtures, which were the second of two dedicated to the Premier League’s No Room for Racism campaign this month. Players took the knee before Richarlison and Spurs faced Everton on Saturday and the hope is that impactful anti-racism actions keep hitting home.

Richarlison takes a knee before Tottenham’s game against Everton on Saturday, along with the players from both teams.
Richarlison takes a knee before Tottenham’s game against Everton on Saturday, along with the players from both teams. Photograph: Rob Newell/CameraSport/Getty Images

They are felt globally and so, unfortunately, are shocking moments of the kind Richarlison experienced against Tunisia. Among those watching was Vinícius, a 25-year-old Tottenham fan from Salvador, who wrote a letter to him in support. It is some experience to hear Richarlison carefully read aloud the words written by Vinícius and reflect on the common ground that neither man should have to occupy.

“For my whole life I’ve been scared of suffering what you suffered [in Paris],” Vinícius writes. “The thought of racism kept me up at night and for much of my childhood, I avoided leaving the house. From an early age I understood certain things about racism. When there were white people, I felt the ugliest and most incapable out of everyone. I felt inferior.”

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Conte says Richarlison will be fit for World Cup


Antonio Conte has moved to allay fears that Richarlison will miss the World Cup. The Brazil striker limped out of Tottenham’s 2-0 win over Everton on Saturday with a calf injury and was in tears as he worried that he faced a lengthy lay-off.

Conte said Richarlison would miss Wednesday night’s Premier League game at Manchester United and, as the player awaits the result of an MRI scan, it remains unclear when he will return. But the manager said it did not look too serious and he expects to have Richarlison back before the season pauses in mid-November.

“For sure against United he is not available,” Conte said. “He is doing a scan and then we will see how much time he needs to recover. But I can confirm that the player is not risking to not play at the World Cup – absolutely not. It’s not so serious. I hope for him to play other games with us before the World Cup.”

Conte replaced Richarlison with the midfielder Yves Bissouma against Everton with the score at 0-0 and switched from 3-4-3 to 3-5-2. With Bissouma in fine form, Spurs found the goals that they needed, playing with control, and Conte was expected to retain the system at Old Trafford – especially with another forward, Dejan Kulusevski, still struggling with a hamstring problem.

But Conte said that his priority was to stick with his favoured 3-4-3 with the fit-again Lucas Moura in his thoughts for one of the attacking roles alongside Harry Kane and Son Heung-min. Bryan Gil is another option and so, too, is pushing the wing-back Ivan Perisic further forward.

“Lucas can be a possibility, Gil can be a possibility, Perisic in a three, like a striker, is a possibility,” Conte said. “You know we like to play with a 3-4-3 with the three strikers and, if we can’t change, I prefer to continue to play with the 3-4-3. We worked a lot with this system. Lucas now is recovered from his injury, Gil is making big progress and then I have Perisic.”

On Kulusevski, Conte said: “We don’t know for the game against United. Sometimes there are situations that you have to go a bit slowly with. If you accelerate the process, you risk only to worsen the situation. We need to have patience. We hope to have Deki in the squad very, very soon.” David Hytner

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Vinícius describes how he would wait outside shopping centres while his white friends, who held no fears of being pulled up by security guards, went inside to try on clothes. It is the kind of everyday hindrance that, added up, holds back so many lives and Richarlison knows how it feels.

“I too have gone into the shopping centre and the security followed me and my friends,” he says. “It wasn’t just because we didn’t have expensive clothes or because we were thieves, whatever the security was thinking. This is quite painful because we feel different to other people. This hurts inside.”

A banana is thrown towards Richarlison after he scores for Brazil against Tunisia in Paris.
A banana is thrown towards Richarlison after he scores for Brazil against Tunisia in Paris. Photograph: –

Richarlison is trying to lessen others’ pain and give them the resources they need to stand tall. “I know what I went through in my childhood,” he says. “I wasn’t born in a golden cradle so, now I’m in a better place, I try to help as much as possible, mainly people in Brazil.”

He gives up 10% of his salary to help fund Instituto Padre Roberto Lettieri, a support house in Barretos, São Paulo state, that assists cancer patients from a local hospital. It gives free accommodation and food to those who arrive for treatment but cannot afford sustenance. He also helps more than 100 families in his home city, Nova Venécia, through its local football club. “I don’t do this because I have to, I do it from the heart,” he says.

The fight against discrimination goes to the very core, too. Nobody deserves to feel the level of discomfort and alienation experienced on that pitch in Paris, or around those shopping centres in Salvador, but he concludes that hope must never be allowed to wane. “I think we live in a difficult time, but I’m still dreaming of the day when racism ends.”

Ivan Toney reveals racist abuse on social media after Brentford win | Brentford

Ivan Toney has revealed he was racially abused after starring in Brentford’s victory over Brighton on Friday.

Toney scored both goals in Brentford’s 2-0 Premier League win, and on Saturday morning shared screenshots of an Instagram direct message. “I wasn’t even going to post this but I woke up angry,” Toney wrote on his Twitter account.

It is not the first time Toney has spoken out about racial abuse, with him and his Brentford teammate Rico Henry taking to social media to say that their families were targeted after the Bees won 3-2 at Everton in May.

Brentford issued a statement on Saturday, calling on the police, legal authorities and Instagram’s parent company to bring the person involved to justice for a “despicable hate crime”.

“Last night, Ivan Toney was subjected to disgusting, racist abuse via a direct message received on social media,” the statement read. “We condemn this discriminatory behaviour in the strongest possible terms. An attack on one of our players is an attack on all of us. Ivan will receive the full backing from the club and from the Brentford fans who we have already seen condemning the abuse.

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“We expect strong support from the police, legal authorities and from Instagram’s parent company, Meta, to ensure that the individual involved faces the full force of the law for this despicable hate crime.”

The Premier League also issued a statement condemning the abuse directed at Toney and will support Brentford’s investigation. “No one should have to face abuse of the kind received by Ivan Toney. It has no place in football or society,” it read. “We are supporting Ivan and the club with investigations.”

Toney was called into the England squad for the first time last month but failed to get on to the pitch for the Nations League matches against Italy and Germany. The 26-year-old underlined his credentials to make Gareth Southgate’s World Cup squad with his double against Brighton, taking his Premier League goals tally this season to eight.

FA awards Jack Leslie posthumous England cap 97 years after call-up | England

The Football Association is awarding Jack Leslie, the first black player to receive an England call-up, a posthumous honorary cap. The inside-left, who scored 137 goals in 400 appearances for Plymouth between 1921 and 1934, was called up to the national team in 1925.

But Leslie would disgracefully be denied an England appearance because of the colour of his skin after selectors discovered his heritage. The Argyle favourite died in 1988 and has been immortalised by a statue that was formally unveiled outside Home Park on Friday.

The FA chair, Debbie Hewitt, confirmed that Leslie has been posthumously awarded an England cap 97 years after his call-up. “Jack Leslie is a true football legend who, through his own adversity, has positively shaped attitudes and behaviours to identify and remove discrimination from football,” she said in a statement released to PA.

“The FA is awarding Jack a posthumous honorary cap to recognise his unique contribution and set of circumstances – and to right the historical wrong. I had the privilege of meeting Lesley, Jack’s granddaughter, at a recent international game at Wembley, where we had the opportunity to recognise the family’s determination, courage and resilience to have Jack’s story told and through the efforts of Lesley and her sisters Lyn and Gill, to change perceptions in football and more broadly in society.

“We have made progress in recent years to ensure that English football is more diverse and inclusive and a game for all. We owe a huge debt of gratitude to Jack and to his family for comprehensively and consistently driving positive change through football. We are pleased to support this campaign and to recognise Jack’s career.”