Manchester United FC

Man Utd's Axel Tuanzebe & Anthony Martial subjected to online racial abuse

Jude Summerfield
Jan 28, 2021, 12:00 PM GMT
Tuanzebe made his first Premier League start of the season on Wednesday
Tuanzebe made his first Premier League start of the season on Wednesday | Visionhaus/Getty Images

Manchester United duo Axel Tuanzebe and Anthony Martial were subjected to racist abuse on social media following their side's defeat to Sheffield United on Wednesday evening.

23-year-old Tuanzebe was handed his first league start of the season, having previously featured from the off in Champions League fixtures, as manager Ole Gunnar Solskjaer rotated his starting XI for the Blades' visit. Forward Martial has been a regular starter for the Red Devils in recent seasons and has scored two league goals this term.

Tuanzebe was substituted late on as the hosts chased an equaliser, but goals from Kean Bryan and Oliver Burke ultimately secured Chris Wilder's side a shock 2-1 win at Old Trafford.

After the game, a number of social media users posted racist comments on Tuanzebe and Martial's Instagram accounts, including monkey emojis. 23-year-old Tuanzebe, who came through United's youth academy, has also deleted his Twitter account.

The abuse drew criticism from United players, with Harry Maguire tweeting: "UNITED against racism. We will not tolerate it."

Midfielder Scott McTominay added: "My brother. Disgusted with what I have read this morning."

United released a statement on Thursday. It reads: “Everyone at Manchester United is disgusted by the racial abuse received by players via social media after last night’s game.

“We utterly condemn it and it is encouraging to see other fans condemn this on social media also.

“Manchester United has zero tolerance of any form of racism or discrimination and a long-standing commitment to campaigning against it through our All Red All Equal initiative.

Tuanzebe in action against Sheffield United
Tuanzebe in action against Sheffield United | Pool/Getty Images

"Identifying these anonymous mindless idiots remains problematic. We urge social media platforms and regulatory authorities to strengthen measures to prevent this kind of behaviour.“

In September at the start of the 2020/21 season, Kick It Out revealed an increase of 42% in reports of discrimination in professional football in England. Reports to Kick It Out rose from 313 in 2018/19 to 446 in 2019/20.