Chelsea defender Antonio Rudiger has spoken out about the “immense” racist abuse he received after the club parted company with Frank Lampard.
The Germany international was reported by some media outlets to have caused difficulties in the Blues dressing room which ultimately led to Lampard’s dismissal and the appointment of Thomas Tuchel.
While teammates rightly showed support for Rudiger after these claims came out, the nasty side of football, particularly football on social media, was on show too as both Rudiger and fellow defender Reece James were on the receiving end of abuse.
Antonio Rudiger Speaks Out on Racist Abuse Suffered
‘I Know Who I Am’
In an interview with the club website, Rudiger said: “I have been in the club into my fourth season and I have had four different coaches, with Tuchel now, and it was never talked about when Sarri left the club or when Conte left the club that players were involved or something like this.
“My conscience is clear. I know who I am and I know I did not do all that nonsense that came out and for me in my head, I am very free. I am open for every new coach, as I was open also for Mr Lampard.
“I cannot control people’s emotions but people should be human beings. Me, I didn’t post anything but the racial abuse was immense. This makes me stronger because I know who I am, I can look in the mirror and I can smile. I know I didn’t do anything so for me this is forgotten.
“For me, in life, it is very important I can look in the mirror, I see myself, I know who I am. Of course, it hurts but in this case I just block it out because I know I didn’t do anything.”
— Antonio Rüdiger (@ToniRuediger) February 4, 2021
Social Media Companies Must Do More in Cases Like Antonio Rudiger
Sadly, Rudiger and James are not the only players to have been abused this season.
Manchester United duo Anthony Martial and Axel Tuanzebe were abused following the defeat to Sheffield United last month, while more recently, Tuanzebe was the subject again both on Saturday night and Sunday morning following United’s home draw against Everton.
Facebook, Twitter and Instagram have all been urged to do more in the fight against racism and the pressure is continuing to mount.
Racist abuse – whether on the pitch, in the stands, or on social media – is despicable and it must stop now. (1/3)
— The Duke and Duchess of Cambridge (@KensingtonRoyal) January 31, 2021
There are suggestions that artificial intelligence could be used to detect abusive messages even while they are being written or to remove anonymity from social media accounts.
Each idea comes with its own issues, but there must also be a point where the positives outweigh the negatives.
Rudiger suggested that unless these companies take swift action against those being abusive, then it makes it look as though they do not care about the issue.
He said: “To be very honest I don’t know about all these social media things but I think the more people who make accounts, they make money off it. So me personally, I think they don’t really care because as you know, this money has power so the rest doesn’t matter, so it is hard to tell if people will make a change on that.
“I feel sorry for that but I feel more sorry for people who are not strong enough so it really affects them. Of course, it affects me in a way too but it is just in a way that makes me think that people are not normal, people I am sorry to say are just stupid.”
Government Stepping In
In a bid to tackle the growing problem of racist abuse towards footballers, the UK government has threatened to issue social media companies with “large fines” if they fail to deal with the issue.
Culture Secretary Oliver Dowden said: “It’s just pretty outrageous in this day and age.
“There’s still problems in stadiums but, to a large extent it’s not the problem that it was. But it’s still rampant on social media.
“We are willing to take the harder, legislative measures.”