Junior Stanislas fears racism in football may never fully be stamped out, but the Bournemouth winger wants people to be held accountable for their actions online after he was subjected to racist slurs and insults about his family by an individual on Twitter.
Speaking exclusively to Sky Sports News, Stanislas detailed the “mixed emotions” he felt having received the abuse after scoring the Cherries’ winning goal in the 1-0 Sky Bet Championship victory on Saturday.
Stanislas has said he would be willing to meet the individual in person, while the 31-year-old also explained the difficulties his family have faced with racism, particularly the contrast of experiences for his “one-in-a-million” twins.
“It was difficult,” said Stanislas, when asked about his initial reaction. “Obviously mixed emotions. At the start the high of getting the three points because we were coming off the back of the defeat and we needed it, so as you can imagine everyone was buzzing in the dressing room.
“I got on the coach, was on the coach for a little while, and then I’ve seen the message, so it’s obviously from a high to a low very quickly.
“Initially, to be honest, I didn’t really feel anything, which I guess is sad, because we’ve seen it all too much now, it’s becoming a regular thing.
“Although for me personally it’s my first sort of online abuse, I’ve had it numerous occasions growing up, so I wouldn’t say numb to it, it’s just becoming all too familiar really. It’s only when I sat back, analysed it and spoke with some of the lads – it’s obviously disgusting.”
On the reaction of his family and team-mates, Stanislas added: “I couldn’t believe it really. The family and friends who are the closest to me, they were sort of similar, although they know it’s disgusting it was more just positive messages like, ‘We’ve seen it before’, ‘You know how to handle it’, ‘Just ignore it’, those sort of things.
“Team-mates were more disgusted I think. Obviously discussions we have going on around race at the minute, and all the lads [have been] very supportive.”
Can social media companies and authorities do more?
Stanislas believes more can be done to hold those who send online abuse accountable, despite his worries racism may never be fully eradicated in football.
He said: “I don’t think it will ever fully be stamped out, but the more it spreads, the more people post about it, certainly the younger people who are on social media and grow up with that at the back of their minds, then things may slowly start to change.
“But back in the day on football pitches people used to get it face to face, and in general society. Nowadays, I guess that’s happening less and less, but people are able to use your Instagrams and Twitters to get their message out that way instead.
“I know there has been talk on social media about making everyone be known exactly who they are, so verified accounts and stuff like that, but as a whole to be honest I’m not too sure.
“I know a lot of people will have their own ideas on it. We need to see it gone. I know taking a knee is part of it and spreads awareness, but in terms of social media people just need to be held accountable for the things that they say.
“Players, for example, we say the wrong thing we get fined. General public, although as I say it might not have affected me the same way it affects a 15-year-old kid, so I think people need to be held accountable.”
Asked about the idea of a profile being matched to some form of identification, Stanislas added: “Not sure how it works. I try to concentrate on the football side of things, but as I say, however it happens people need to be held accountable.
“Our accounts are obviously verified, so if we say the wrong thing we get punished for it. A lot of the stuff we say isn’t around race or ethnicity, and we still get the punishment, so when more serious issues come up I think people should be held accountable for sure.”
A spokesperson for Twitter, who have since permanently suspended the account in question and are supporting the Kick It Out Take A Stand initiative, told Sky Sports News: “Racist behaviour has no place on Twitter and we strongly condemn it.
“We take action on any account that violates the Twitter Rules. We welcome people to freely express themselves on our service, however, as outlined in our Hateful Conduct Policy, account holders cannot promote violence against, threaten or harass other people on the basis of race, ethnicity or other protected groups.
“We proactively engage and continue to collaborate with our valued partners in football, to identify ways to tackle this issue collectively. We remain focused on proactively actioning hateful content.
“We want to reiterate that abusive and hateful conduct has no place on our service and we will continue to take swift action on the minority that try to undermine the conversation for the majority. We will continue to play our part in curbing this unacceptable behaviour – both online and offline.”
Sky Sports News understands there is a meeting scheduled next week involving the prominent social media companies and football’s governing bodies.
‘I’d like to know how their mind works’
Bournemouth chief executive Neill Blake has vowed to do all the club can in identifying the person concerned, while Stanislas admitted he would be willing to meet the individual face to face to get their viewpoint.
Stanislas said: “Yeah, for sure [I would meet face to face]. I have no idea who he was, whether he was young, old, or anything like that. I just don’t understand it, personally. I’m mixed race, so have a black dad and a white mum, so racism to me I’ve never understood it.
“It would be nice to get the viewpoint of someone who is saying these sort of things and know how their mind works, what goes on, why they feel like because someone’s a certain skin colour they have the right to say things about them. Although we’re exactly the same person, we just have a different skin colour. It’s crazy to me.”
‘My twins in a difficult position’
“Without going into too much detail, I’ve got twin boys who are nine, and within the past me and one of my sons have both had racial abuse. I had to wake up in the morning, without going into detail, what had happened because they had to go to school, and people might mention it to them.
“The difficult thing with my sons are, them being twins, they’re sort of one-in-a-million twins. One is my colour, dark hair, dark eyes, the other has white skin, blonde hair, blue eyes. The sad fact of the matter is one of them has already seen racism, and I’m sure will see it throughout his life, and the other one – although they’re exactly the same race – will never see it and never experience it, which is a real shame.
“I know the Premier League are doing a lot to make people more aware of it and try to eradicate it, but racism, sadly, I don’t think will ever be fully gone.
“If people become more aware of it, they can act in the right matter, certainly on social media.”
Kick It Out forms three-year partnership with Sky
Kick It Out has launched a three-year partnership with Sky which will see Sky become its key broadcast media partner in the drive for inclusion in football and the battle against discrimination in all its forms.
Sky will commit £3m over the next three years, in a mix of cash and value in kind support.
Sky will also commit to using its powerful voice, extensive reach and established channels to support the organisation that has been at the forefront of the fight against racism and discrimination in football for over 27 years.
As well as committing to use its editorial reach, voice and platforms to campaign for change, Sky will work on a series of initiatives with Kick It Out.
These will include partnering on educational initiatives, making it easier to report instances of discrimination online and inside football stadia, and developing annual transparency and insight reports on a range of issues relating to diversity, discrimination and inclusion.
Hate Won’t Stop Us
Sky Sports is committed to making our channels a safe place for debate that is free of abuse, hate and profanity. If you see a reply to Sky Sports posts and/or content with an expression of hate on the basis of race, colour, gender, nationality, ethnicity, disability, religion, sexuality, age or class please copy the URL to the hateful post or screengrab it and email us here.
For more information please visit: www.skysports.com/hatewontstopus