Juan Mata Criticises 'Cowardly' Racial Abuse of Manchester United's Paul Pogba

James Dudko@@JamesDudkoFeatured ColumnistAugust 21, 2019

MANCHESTER, ENGLAND - APRIL 09: Paul Pogba of Manchester United speaks to Juan Mata of Manchester United during the Manchester United training session ahead of the UEFA Champions League Quarter Final First Leg match between Manchester United v FC Barcelona at Aon Training Complex on April 09, 2019 in Manchester, England. (Photo by Nathan Stirk/Getty Images)
Nathan Stirk/Getty Images

Juan Mata has branded those who use social media to abuse athletes "cowardly," after fellow Manchester United midfielder Paul Pogba was subjected to racial abuse online following Monday's 1-1 draw with Wolverhampton Wanderers in the Premier League.ย 

Mata spoke to ESPN FC's Rob Dawsonย and expressed his disappointment abuse of the type Pogba experienced is still occurring in football: "It's not something we should be speaking about, because it should have been eradicated a long time ago."

The Spaniard bemoaned how social media platforms can afford certain people chances to vent their animosity: "It's a problem. Unfortunately, some people do that and it needs to stop. It's cowardly to do it that way because no one can see you. It's not nice."

Mata also lamented the lack of verifiable identity on many platforms and how the use of anonymous accounts lets some users commit abuse with anonymity and impunity.

Pogba missed a penalty in the 68th minute at Molineaux and soon became the brunt of abuse from some Twitter users. United posted a message outlining the club's "zero tolerance" for such actions:

Manchester United @ManUtd

Manchester United has zero tolerance of any form of racism or discrimination. #allredallequal https://t.co/neapEz2FFa

Pogba's team-mates Harry Maguire and Marcus Rashford also rushed to the Frenchman's defense:

Harry Maguire @HarryMaguire93

Disgusting. Social media need to do something about it... Every account that is opened should be verified by a passport/driving licence. Stop these pathetic trolls making numerous accounts to abuse people. @Twitter @instagram https://t.co/bzow073aTw

Marcus Rashford @MarcusRashford

Manchester United is a family. @paulpogba is a huge part of that family. You attack him you attack us all... @ManUtd https://t.co/PgalnFQMeu

Maguire's call for greater authentication of accounts and their users is a possible solution to the concerns raised by Mata. Twitter is already planning new ways to combat the problem.

The company released a statement on Wednesday outlining plans to meet with both United and Kick It Out, the organisation formed to campaign for equality in the game, per BBC Sport: "Over the next few weeks, Twitter representatives will meet with Manchester United, Kick It Out and any other civil society stakeholders interested in hearing about the proactive work Twitter is doing to address online racist abuse towards certain footballers in the UK."

Closer work with those attempting to rid the sport of racism is promised by Twitter, with BBC Sport having pointed out an increase of 45 percent during this calendar year on the number of bans for those who had previously escaped punishment.

Meanwhile, the report also noted how Facebook intends to enforce permanent bans for those engaging in abuse.

Pogba's case comes on the heels of Chelsea striker Tammy Abraham facing similar attacks after he missed a penalty in the shoot-out with Liverpool to settle the UEFA Super Cup. Chelsea and Kick It Out quickly condemned the abusers.

Reading's Yakou Meite also received an abusive message after his penalty miss during the Royals' 3-0 win over Cardiff City in the Championship recently. Meite captured the message on Instagram and tweeted it accompanied by the words: "I don't think I need to speak," per Sky Sports.