- THE SUN has been heavily criticised for ‘PR’ stunt.
- THE PAPER announced its decision to join in the football-wide social media boycott.
- THE PROTEST was designed to tackle sharp rise in racist and homophobic abuse on the internert
- BUT THE Liverpool FC fan channel described The Sun’s decision as “total hypocrisy”.
- IN ADDITION to news story, read Euan Burns’ comment piece below about how the tabloids may have a new target in football.
- BURNS DISCUSSES the Daily Mail’s coverage of Manchester United youngster Amad Diallo’s human trafficking plight, and what it could mean for his future
AN INDEPENDENT SUPPORTER’S group for Liverpool Football Club has reacted to The Sun newspaper’s decision to join in football’s social media boycott.
English clubs and associations at all levels of the game made a united stance against hate messages at the beginning of May.
The protest was mounted because of a sharp rise in racist, homophobic, and transphobic abuse directed at football players.
Social media platforms such as Twitter and Instagram have been slammed for spreading harmful content unchecked, leaving young players feeling powerless and isolated.
From 3 pm last Friday 30th April, club accounts stopped sharing content for nearly three days, right through until 11:59 pm, Monday 3rd May.
Fans and officials hoped that direct action would cause the hugely-profitable social media companies to sit up and take notice of the abuse found on their platforms.
But parts of the football community were surprised that The Sun was championing the campaign.
One Liverpool fan called it ‘a PR move.’
The Rupert Murdoch-owned tabloid has been accused of publishing damaging rhetoric on topics such as immigration.
The Sun stated in a tweet that the paper was “proud to stand united with the football community this weekend in response to the ongoing discriminatory abuse of players on social media”, as they announced their decision to join in the boycott.
However, some supporters branded the decision “hypocritical”, claiming that the paper had targeted black footballers in the past.
Critics claimed that The Sun had printed sensationalist headlines about players from ethnic backgrounds.
Both The Sun, and the rival Daily Mail, have received condemnation in the past from football fans over their coverage of Manchester City forward Raheem Sterling’s personal life.
Sterling, who is of Jamaican heritage, has made his thoughts about The Sun and similar publications known in the past.
In one Instagram post in December 2018, he said: “Some sections of the newspaper industry help fuel racism by covering the private lives of young black players in a different manner to their white counterparts.”
Similarly, around the same time, Aston Villa defender Tyrone Mings refused to participate in an interview with TalkSport , whilst he was a Bournemouth player, as the radio station is also owned by The Sun’s owner, Rupert Murdoch.
Mings spoke out after comments from former Reading player Dave Kitson, about the racial abuse Sterling received from the crowd in a match against Chelsea.
Mings said: “I’m meant to be doing an interview with TalkSport tomorrow, which won’t be happening. I’m fed up with broadcasting channels who have a huge voice allowing this sort of shit to be said. Like someone or dislike them, there is no ‘but’ or grey area when it comes to racism.”
An outlet has created and driven hate for decades often without responsibility or repercussions taking the moral high ground was at best a PR move.Ross Chandley, The Redmen TV
The Sun’s involvement in last week’s social media ban has been described as “total hypocrisy” by Ross Chandley from Liverpool fan channel, The Redmen TV.
He said: “An outlet that has created and driven hate for decades often without responsibility or repercussions taking the moral high ground was at best a PR move.”
Regarding how successful the campaign was, Mr Chandley added: “It depends on what you think is successful.
“Did it solve online hate, racism, homophobia? No. Was it designed to solve it? No probably not.
“Success can be changing the mind of one person.
“If that campaign made one person look at the way they conduct themselves online then that’s a success.”
Whilst many football fans have turned away from The Sun, Liverpool fans’ anger predominantly stems from the newspaper’s coverage of the Hillsborough disaster in 1989, which claimed the lives of 96 Liverpool fans.
The supporters involved were vilified in a notorious and false front-page story, headlined “The Truth” when the fault for the crush laid elsewhere.
There has since been a city-wide boycott of the newspaper since.
The paper claims to have made moves to build bridges with the city, however feelings still run high.
The Sun’s current Editor is Victoria Newton, a life-long Liverpool fan from Merseyside, who had family members at the Hillsborough disaster.
Similarly, the paper’s Assistant Editor Dave Wooding also comes from Merseyside and supports Liverpool Football Club.
The FA and the Players Football Association did not respond to requests for a comment.
The UK tabloids may have found a new black footballer to attack, writes Euan Burns
THE UK TABLOIDS’ treatment of young footballers has been an issue for years.
What’s even more abhorrent is that the players who receive the worst treatment are also black.
It’s not a coincidence. Part of the motivation for these aggressively shaming and often defamatory stories is that the likes of the Daily Mail and The Sun know their readership don’t like to see young, black people from disadvantaged backgrounds making loads of money.
The reporting is the same for mainstream celebrities.
If you make loads of money, you must have your whole personal and professional life picked apart.
Footballers are some of the most heavily scrutinised individuals in society, but that’s to be expected if you’re playing the world’s most popular sport in the country that claims to have founded the sport.
That being said, why should their private lives be fair game for tabloids?
This racially prejudiced style of reporting was thrust into the limelight when Manchester City forward Raheem Sterling bit back and criticised the tabloids.
He was the subject of a series of articles in which he was painted as a stain on British society.
His only real crime was being a successful, black, English footballer of Jamaican descent.
The most amount of focus Sterling got was when people spotted a tattoo of an M16 rifle on his right leg.
He said it was in relation to the murder of his father, who was shot dead when Raheem was just two years old.
It’s quite a blunt tattoo, but essentially, it’s deeply personal and he has his own reasons for it. The Sun decided that Raheem had “shot himself in the foot”.
Their highlighting of the tattoo led to a pile on from much of the general public, including anti-gun advocates.
The founder of Mothers Against Guns, Lucy Cope, said: “This tattoo is disgusting. Raheem should hang his head in shame.”
There are legitimate reasons to dislike that tattoo, but some of the other things Sterling has been criticised for are laughable.
He’s been criticised for buying clothes from Primark despite his huge wages, eating at Greggs, showing off any form of wealth at all, and proposing to his girlfriend. That proposal prompted The Sun to call him a “love rat”.
They often try to legitimise the criticism by contextualising it with sporting failure. He bought a house for his mum (who worked multiple jobs whilst studying and raising Raheem and his siblings) shortly after England’s exit from the 2016 European Championships.
The fact England had been knocked out meant Sterling was supposedly showing no care for the English public.
The Daily Mail headline read: “That’s a lot of Sterling! £180,000-a-week England flop Raheem shows off blinging house he bought for his mum – complete with jewel-encrusted bathroom – hours after flying home in disgrace from Euro 2016”.
A similar story saw him being criticised for going out for breakfast the morning after he came third in the young player of the year award.
Not only are these stories distressing and irritating for Sterling and his family, but they are also completely not newsworthy.
Another player who recently started to receive similar treatment is Mason Greenwood. The 19-year-old Manchester United striker became a hugely popular player due to his unrivalled goalscoring record in the youth sides, and his 17 goals for the senior team in 2019/20. Throughout all that, United never let him speak to the mainstream media. They were shielding him. Then in September 2020, he was called up for England, and that’s where things unravelled.
Whilst the squad were in Iceland, he and Manchester City star Phil Foden stupidly invited some girls into their hotel room, breaking strict COVID-19 protocols at a time when cases in the UK were starting to sharply rise again. The pair were sent home by Gareth Southgate. This was of course a big story as it was in the public interest. Once that story left the news cycle, a series of new stories similar to those Sterling was targeted with began to crop up.
Accusations of being late to training, bust-ups with teammates, and partying before matches all started flying around the tabloid press. None of this had been mentioned until he had a negative public image, and then the pile-on began. It’s worth mentioning that throughout this period, a close friend and fellow young footballer Jeremy Wisten committed suicide at the age of 18, having been released by Manchester City’s academy. Tragic news like that is a lot for a 19-year-old who is new to the media treatment footballers receive to go through.
A February headline in the Daily Mail about another United player suggested that should his career take off, he could be subjected to the same treatment as Sterling and Greenwood. Amad Diallo signed for United in the summer transfer window of 2020 but remained with Italian side Atalanta until January 2021. Part of the delay was caused by Diallo’s unusual past.
Diallo was smuggled into Italy by a child trafficking ring with his brother and two people posing as his parents. His brother incidentally is Hamed Junior Traore, the Sassuolo midfielder. Amad was just 12 years old at the time. This must still be a very fresh and confusing memory for Diallo to live with, as he’s now still only 18. The Italian authorities have been investigating Diallo and his brother, and the case ended with a plea bargain and a £42,000 fine for each brother. The fact the brothers are receiving fines rather than the people who trafficked them points to a raft of other societal issues.
This verdict prompted the Daily Mail to print the following headline: “Man United’s £37m Amad Diallo is fined £42,000 for ‘falsifying documents and using bogus parents to push through his move to Italy from the Ivory Coast‘”. This headline that paints the children as criminal masterminds is extremely distressing. It bears all the hallmarks of the twisted stories that Sterling and Greenwood have been subjected to in the past.
Amad Diallo isn’t at a point in his career yet where his name generates the same amount of clicks as Sterling and Greenwood. That’s why as it stands, this is a one-off. The framing of the story, however, suggests that should he become a key player for Manchester United in the future, they will start to drag up anything and everything about Diallo’s troubled past, as well as pick away at whatever his lifestyle choices happen to be in the future. Until people stop interacting with these stories, new targets will be found and bombarded.