‘Why we kneel’ – Crystal Palace star Van Aanholt reveals vile racist abuse for late miss against Man Utd

‘Why we kneel’ – Crystal Palace star Van Aanholt reveals vile racist abuse for late miss against Man Utd

The left-back became the latest Premier League player to be subjected to derogatory comments on social media following the 0-0 draw at Selhurst Park

Patrick van Aanholt has become the latest Premier League footballer to be a victim of racist abuse on social media following Crystal Palace’s draw with Manchester United on Wednesday evening.

The Dutch left-back revealed he had been sent an abusive message on Instagram after he spurned a late chance to score in the goalless draw at Selhurst Park.

It comes amid a spate of recent incidents on social media in which footballers from BAME backgrounds have been sent racist abuse.

What was said?

Van Aanholt posted a screenshot of the abuse he received, accompanied with the message: “Why we kneel.”

This is in reference to Premier League players taking the knee before kick-off in every game since English top-flight football restarted last summer after the coronavirus-enforced absence.

The abuse was condemned online, with his Palace team-mate Christian Benteke writing: “Sick of this. More needs to be done. We’re with you bro.”

Who else has suffered abuse?

Racism online is an increasing problem around Premier League football, with players having suffered abuse from individuals who often hide behind anonymous accounts.

Antonio Rudiger, Reece James, Anthony Martial, Axel Tuanzebe and Willian are among the players who have been targeted in recent times.

West Brom midfielder Romaine Sawyers, meanwhile, was sent a racist message after his side’s defeat to Manchester City that led to the arrest of a 49-year-old man in January 2021.

In another case, teenager Patrick O’Brien was found to have racially abused former Arsenal player Ian Wright through direct messages on Instagram after losing a game of FIFA.

What has been the response to racism?

There have been calls for all social media accounts to be verified or for users to have to use their real names when on the platforms, while Twitter and Instagram have been urged to ban any accounts which send abuse.

Indeed, Instagram released a statement back in February claiming that they will taker “tougher action” against those who are deemed to have broken their rules relating to direct messages.

On the pitch, players have taken the knee before games in symbolic defiance of prejudice. The act was popularised by NFL player Colin Kaepernick, who took the knee during the United States national anthem to oppose police brutality.

However, there has been some opposition to taking the knee from players past and present, who say that the symbolic gesture is meaningless without real change to back it up.

Van Aanholt’s Palace team-mate, Wilfried Zaha, has said he will no longer take the knee while Les Ferdinand believes the impact of the gesture “has been diluted”.

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