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‘I’m fighting for my son’ – Chelsea’s Romelu Lukaku urges social media CEOs to meet players to stop online abuse

'I'm fighting for my son' - Chelsea's Romelu Lukaku urges social media CEOs to meet players to stop online abuse

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Chelsea striker Romelu Lukaku believes that a meeting between players, social media CEOs, governments and governing bodies could help in the fight against online abuse.

Lukaku has been abused by fans in the past, both online and on the pitch, and has previously stated that he feels racism in football is at an “all-time high”.

Social media companies, such as Facebook and Twitter, have implemented measures in an attempt to curb online hate but players in both the men’s and women’s games continue to be subjected to vile abuse.

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“I have to fight,” Lukaku told CNN. ”Because I’m not fighting only for myself. I’m fighting for my son, for my future kids, for my brother, for all of the other players and their kids, you know, for everybody.

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“The captains of every team, and four or five players, like the big personalities of every team, should have a meeting with the CEOs of Instagram and governments and the FA and the PFA, and we should just sit around the table and have a big meeting about it.

“How we can attack it straight away, not only from the men’s game, but also from the women’s game.

“I think just [get] all of us together and just have a big meeting and have a conference and just talk about stuff that needs to be addressed to protect the players, but also to protect fans and younger players that want to become professional footballers.”

Lukaku’s club Chelsea launched a ‘No To Hate’ photography competition earlier this year in the wake of racist abuse received by Reece James in January.

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The club hope the competition can celebrate the diversity of its support and Lukaku says the fight against racism is one that he will never grow tired of.

“At the end of the day, football should be an enjoyable game,” he said. “You cannot kill the game by discrimination. That should never happen.

“Football is joy, it’s happiness and it shouldn’t be a place where you feel unsafe because of the opinion from some uneducated people.”

Lukaku’s comments come in the week that team-mate Marcos Alonso made headlines for not taking a knee ahead of the Premier League match at Tottenham last weekend, instead remaining standing and pointing to the anti-racism message on his sleeve.

Alonso’s rationale, although he did not discuss it with his fellow Chelsea players prior to kick-off, is that taking a knee is “losing a bit of its strength”.

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Lukaku appeared to echo the Spaniard’s sentiment when he questioned the effectiveness of the gesture.

“I think we can take stronger positions, basically,” he said. “Yeah, we are taking the knee, but in the end, everybody’s clapping but … sometimes after the game, you see another insult.”

According to the CNN report, both the Football Association (FA) and the Professional Footballers’ Association (PFA) have reached out to Lukaku.

In January, key footballing authorities and governing bodies, including Kick It Out, the FA, the Premier League and the PFA met with social media companies to discuss ways to combat online hate.

Facebook removed more than 33 million pieces of hate speech from its platforms between January and March this year.

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“No one should have to experience racist abuse anywhere, and we don’t tolerate it on Facebook and Instagram,” a Facebook spokesperson said. “We remove racist content as soon as we see it and respond to valid legal requests to help with police investigations.

“We’ve also built the Hidden Words tool to prevent people from seeing this abuse in their comments and in DMs and encourage everyone to use it. People can also limit comments and DM requests during spikes of increased attention.

“No one thing will fix this challenge overnight, but we’re committed to continuing our work with the Premier League and others to help keep our community safe from abuse.”

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