UK government holds talks with footballers to tackle discrimination and abuse

DCMS meeting with footballers about abuse and discrimination
Current and former players were asked for their perspective on tackling discrimination and abuse in the game by the UK government

The UK government has held talks with current and former footballers about tackling discrimination and abuse.

Liverpool captain Jordan Henderson and Aston Villa's Tyrone Mings were among those to participate in the meeting.

Culture Secretary Oliver Dowden led the talks as part of wider discussions on the future of English football.

It comes as the government plans to introduce new laws on online abuse and launch a fan-led review of football governance in 2021.

Watford's Troy Deeney, former West Ham defender Anton Ferdinand and ex-England international Karen Carney also took part in the online meeting, sharing experiences of the abuse they or fellow footballers have faced.

"To hear players talk about the level of abuse they have faced was humbling," Dowden said.

"Their input today has strengthened my resolve to bring in new laws to ensure there is much greater accountability from the social media platforms for dealing with such problems.

"As we shape the future of football and look towards our football governance review, we must tackle issues around discrimination and lack of equality of opportunity head on."

Carney, who won 144 England caps, deleted her Twitter account after a tweet by Leeds United questioned her comments as a pundit and led to online abuse.

In November, Ferdinand talked about the repercussions of being at the centre of a Premier League racism storm when playing for Queens Park Rangers almost a decade ago.

England defender Mings, who has previously criticised social media platforms for making it "all too easy" for racist abuse to take place online, said: "I was pleased that the Secretary of State wanted to engage with, and listen to, the thoughts of us as players and ex players.

"Hopefully this adds context when he attempts to deliver change on behalf of us."

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