(Reuters) – Manchester United manager Ole Gunnar Solskjaer said players need more protection from social media companies, describing racist abuse and death threats directed at them as “serious incidents.”
United midfielder Paul Pogba was the target of online abuse after missing a penalty in Monday’s 1-1 Premier League draw at Wolverhampton Wanderers, prompting the club to issue a strong statement condemning the views.
Chelsea manager Frank Lampard last week urged social media companies to take action after 21-year-old striker Tammy Abraham was targeted after the team’s UEFA Super Cup loss to Liverpool.
“We need to protect individuals. When there’s death threats and racism, it’s serious allegations, serious incidents,” Solskjaer told reporters on the eve of Saturday’s clash with Crystal Palace.
“Sometimes you get annoyed, what can we do about it as Manchester United? We’re not going to ban our players on social media, we have to spread the good word instead.”
Solskjaer backed Frenchman Pogba to rise above the abuse and emerge stronger.
“Paul is fine, he’s a strong character and it makes him stronger. I cannot believe we still sit here in 2019 taking about these instances,” the Norwegian added.
“Social media is a place where people can hide behind fake identities. There’s so many Ole Gunnar Solskjaers on social media that I know are not me.
“The authorities have got to do something about the ones who spread this hate. You feel sorry for them really — they must have problems themselves.”
Pogba will continue to share penalty duties with striker Marcus Rashford despite the miss against Wolves.
“I’m sure you’re going to see Pogba score a penalty again for United. Let’s see when we get the next one. We’re practising penalties still,” Solskjaer said.
“There’s no fighting amongst them. We’re disappointed that we didn’t win the game, but the talk is always more difficult when you don’t get a result.”
United are holding talks with other clubs over the transfer of Chilean forward Alexis Sanchez, who played in a behind-closed-doors friendly with Sheffield United on Tuesday.
“There are still talks with some clubs but he played in that game and played well, he’s working hard… let’s see in September what’s going to happen,” Solskjaer added.
(Reporting by Shrivathsa Sridhar in Bengaluru; Editing by Christian Radnedge)