Racism, insults … athletes are taking action against cyberstalking

More and more athletes are denouncing hateful, racist or sexist insults to which they are the target on social networks and no longer hesitate to initiate legal proceedings.

The frustration of being behind closed doors or gauges in stadiums in times of coronavirus does not explain everything. Name calling on social media has become the norm and is aimed at everyone. Even the personalities. Especially the personalities. The world of sport is no exception and seems to initiate a slight turn on the subject by publicly revealing the abuses experienced in “the intimacy” of private messages or behind a pseudonym. Gaël Monfils has already broadcast the hate messages received by disappointed punters after a loss.

Nacer Bouhanni, he decided to go further. Criticized for a dangerous sprint on the classic Cholet-Pays de la Loire, the sprinter is overwhelmed by a flood of racist insults. In addition to revealing them, he decided to file a complaint to denounce “harassment”. The runner even has insomnia. “I’m not the only one to see what is happening on social networks, he asks in L’Equipe, this Tuesday. Why does nobody do anything when this kind of filthy people constantly send me ‘pig’ or ‘terrorist’, ‘go back to your dirty Maghrebian country’? “

No sport seems to be immune to cyberstalking. The most watched sport in the world, football is at the forefront. Imran Louza, midfielder of Nantes, no longer counts the racist messages at the heart of a very complicated season for the Canaries. The stars are also the target such as Antoine Griezmann, whose brother Theo, appealed for calm after a series of nauseating tweets. Called on to replace Alessandro Florenzi against Bayern on Wednesday, Thilo Kehrer finds himself caught in a torrent of insults in the face of the fears of some Parisian supporters about his level of play. And the examples are numerous: Anthony Martial, Reece James, Fred …

The excessiveness of comments and attacks is as striking as the lethargy of social networks to counter them. In 2020, Twitter was attacked for its inaction in moderation. Last December, the platform announced stronger measures by proposing to exclude “messages that dehumanize people on the basis of race, ethnicity or national origin”. The Little Blue Bird Network hit hard in January by deleting the account of former US President Donald Trump. In February, Instagram announced stronger rules and penalties for hate speech in direct messages.

Despite this, stalkers still enjoy great impunity and can still create accounts with other identities. This is what Thierry Henry, former Arsenal star, wanted to denounce by withdrawing from all social networks. His former club – and his 17 million Twitter followers – said they were ready to emulate him,

“The things I heard in the stadiums and on the streets are found more and more in social media, especially in my community, and the sport I love the most, football, he explained. on the BBC. I thought it was time to take a stand and make people understand that it is not okay to be abused online, that it is not okay to be abused online. online bullying or harassment. The impact this can have on your mental health is incomparable, we know people commit suicide because of it. Too much is too much. We need action. Sometimes it is too easy to get an account and get away with it. “

Even if the flow of insults is incessant, going through the justice box appears to be the most formidable way to calm stalkers. After the broadcast of the documentary “I am not a slut, I am a journalist”, Vanessa Lemoigne, journalist on beIN Sports, had confided to lodge a complaint automatically after insults.

At the end of March, five students were on trial in Paris for having participated in a hate campaign against the Asian community. A citizenship course was required by the court, which will render its decision on May 26. They could face up to five years in prison. If that makes you think.

Nicolas Couet Journalist RMC Sport

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