Ian Wright opens up to Alan Shearer on horrific experiences of racism in football and on social media

Wright told some harrowing stories and revealed vile messages on his social media accounts as part of the Premier League’s ‘No room for racism’ campaign

Ian Wright is a pundit for BBC Match of the Day
Ian Wright is a pundit for BBC Match of the Day

Ian Wright has described some of the horrific racist abuse he experienced during his football career and now daily on social media in a powerful video with fellow BBC pundit Alan Shearer.

Wright shared the 17-minute video on his social media channels before joining in with the football-wide boycott of major platforms like Twitter and Instagram, running from Friday to Monday night, designed to put pressure on the social media giants to take stronger action against abuse online.

The video, which is part of the Premier League’s ‘No room for racism’ campaign, was a candid conversation between Wright and his fellow former England striker Shearer in which he told some harrowing stories and revealed vile messages on his social media accounts.

Wright said: “The first time I went to Leeds with Palace, probably ‘85, they were singing stuff to me and Brighty [fellow black player Mark Bright] where it would be like: ‘What f*****g n****r?’ and then they would all point: ‘That f*****g n****r!’

“The reason I mention it is because Leeds fans, they stopped it. They, to a man and women themselves, got up and said ‘We’re not having that, we’re not accepting that here’, and they slowly one-by-one dealt with it.”

Wright showed Shearer a direct message received online the same day which included appalling racist language and the acronym BLDM, meaning ‘black lives don’t matter’.

“It’s a daily thing,” Wright said.

He also criticised the outcome of a court case in Ireland in which an 18-year-old, Patrick O’Brien, pleaded guilty to harassing Wright in May 2020, and sending a message by phone that was grossly offensive, obscene and menacing. On sentencing the judge said he “didn’t see anything to be gained” by imposing a criminal conviction, and handed O’Brien probation.

“I’m not saying I want him to go to prison,” he said. “Some community service, some education on racism, that’s what you want. People say about education, people should know better, parents should know better, but they don’t, they don’t know better.

“This guy, who’s done this [abusive social media message] today, why should he not do that, in his mind? Because he’s feeling that there’s no consequences.”

Wright said messages of racist abuse made him feel “dehumanised”, adding: “You feel like nothing. There’s nothing you can do. You are helpless.”

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