Romaine Sawyers: West Brom report alleged racist abuse of midfielder to police

Romaine Sawyers in action during West Brom's loss to Manchester City

West Bromwich Albion have contacted police over an alleged racist message sent to midfielder Romaine Sawyers.

They have called for “the toughest available legal punishment” and will ban the individual responsible from The Hawthorns for life.

“There is No Room For Racism. Anywhere. Challenge it, report it, change it,” said the Premier League club.

“Albion will offer Romaine the relevant support required at this time and continues with its long-standing commitment to help rid football of racism.”

West Brom manager Sam Allardyce said on Friday: “We dealt with it as quickly as we can. It leaves a big question about whether reporting it is enough.

“He is extremely upset, as anybody would be.

“It does become a greater thing to put right. But who does it lie with? Should a player take legal action? Social media sites need to act in a more responsible way. We have to do our best to cut this out.”

Saint Kitts and Nevis international Sawyers, 29, played for West Brom between 2009 and 2013 and rejoined the club from Brentford in 2019.

He helped them win promotion from the Championship in 2019-20 – playing 42 league games – and has played 18 times in the Premier League this season.

Manchester United players Axel Tuanzebe and Anthony Martial were racially abused on social media after Wednesday’s home defeat by Sheffield United.

“It’s just incredible we have these scenes still, this abuse in 2021,” Manchester United manager Ole Gunnar Solskjaer said on Friday.

“We’ve been campaigning for a long time now with the Premier League and I think it’s working but there are still some people that haven’t got it.

“They’re not Man United fans when this happens. We’re all standing behind every single one of our players.”

The Professional Footballers’ Association, the players’ union, has encouraged Tuanzebe and Martial – as well as any other player targeted by racial abuse – to “press charges”.

On Monday, the UK government held talks with current and former footballers about tackling discrimination and abuse.

The government plans to introduce new laws on online abuse this year and the Premier League has launched its own online abuse reporting system.

In a statement, Premier League chief executive Richard Masters said he was “appalled” by the racist abuse received by players.

“Racist behaviour of any form is unacceptable and nobody should have to deal with it,” he said.

“Tackling online hate is a priority for football, and I believe social media companies need to do more.”

He said the Premier League had “regular dialogue” with social media companies, adding: “We want to see swifter removal of offensive messages and improved identification and banning of offenders.”

A spokesperson for Facebook, which also owns Instagram, said: “There is no place for racism on Instagram and we are committed to removing it when we find it. We know there is more to do and we will continue to work closely with clubs, players and football authorities to investigate instances of discrimination and collectively tackle this issue.”

Bournemouth winger Junior Stanislas has also faced “disgusting” abuse online.

The 31-year-old former England Under-21 international says forcing individuals to disclose their identity when setting up social media accounts would help combat the problem.

“As footballers, we have to be held accountable for what we post,” Stanislas told BBC Radio 5 Live Breakfast on Friday.

“If we post anything we shouldn’t, we get fined for it. That’s because our profiles are verified. The public can get away with it.

“If accounts had to be verified, or people had to prove who they were before posting things, I think online abuse would certainly come down a bit.

“I’m not saying racism would stop or go away – because I don’t think it ever will – but I think it can be controlled a lot better.”

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