Manchester United Women manager Casey Stoney has condemned the racist abuse suffered by teenage forward Lauren James online as “utterly disgusting” and called for Government action.
Stoney also wants social media companies to do more tackle a serious problem that has become rife in the game.
England international James, 19, shared a screenshot of the racist abuse she suffered on her Instagram account this week.
In 2021, it's heart-breaking that anyone has to put up with such abuse💔.— FIFA Women's World Cup (@FIFAWWC) February 8, 2021
We hope the support you are receiving from those closest to you, and your true fans Lauren, shows you how much you are loved.🤗 https://t.co/oyv4pVv4Xb
It comes after United men’s players Marcus Rashford, Anthony Martial and Axel Tuanzebe were also sent abusive messages. James’ brother Reece, the Chelsea defender, has also been a victim in recent weeks.
Stoney said: “I have spoken to her, I speak to her every day. She is 19 years of age, she is a very young person, living away from home.
“It is hard for me to comprehend, sitting here as a white person, what she lives through every single day, what she has experienced growing up, but it is disgusting. It is utterly disgusting.
“I think the Government and the powers that be need to do so much more to govern these social media platforms and we need to stand up, speak up and make it unacceptable that this happens.
“When a player comes to me and says, ‘It’s water off a duck’s back,’ that is gut-wrenching for me, that she has to face that and thinks it’s normal.
“I just cannot comprehend it or get my head round it at all. It does upset me quite a lot, to be honest.
“It is a sad time, a very sad time. Until the Government, until Instagram, until Twitter, until these people in higher profile positions do something about it, it is not going to change. It is over to them.”
Former England captain Stoney, who herself received homophobic throughout her career, feels James has done a brave thing by highlighting the abuse.
The 38-year-old said: “I am actually really proud of her for speaking out and reaching out. To be able to stand up, say ‘I’m not accepting this, it is not OK’, and calling it out I think is brave, but I also think she shouldn’t have to go through it.
“I just said to her yesterday, ‘Why don’t you come off it? Protect yourself’. I think her opinion is then then they’re winning because it (social media) is something, as a young person, they actually enjoy. It is part of who they are now. If you take that away then that’s wrong – but this has to stop.”
I've been told I'm an abomination and I should never have been born.Casey Stoney
Reflecting on her own experiences, Stoney said at a press conference: “I’ve been told I’m an abomination and I should never have been born, I have been sent things through the post that weren’t very nice just because I love another human being.
“But for me I lived in a slightly different generation. I didn’t grow up with Twitter and Instagram. I’m thankful for that.
“But it doesn’t matter who’s saying it, it still stings. If you are getting that consistently it must be very tough. I just think we need to have more kindness in the world and less hate.”