London: Former Arsenal and England striker Ian Wright has been subjected to a barrage of racist abuse on social media.
Leading anti-racism charities condemned the sickening incident after Wright went public with the messages on Monday.
An Instagram user messaged Wright with racist taunts and the 56-year-old, who also played for Crystal Palace and West Ham, took to Twitter to expose the abuse.
One of the messages to Wright read: "You're like 65 years old. If I get corona I will cough in your face and give you your death sentence."
Wright said: "I know I'm not meant to look at them but these messages still hit me so hard man. This is a child!!!
"This kid has a direct line into me & is able to send this without any worry."
I know I'm not meant to look at them but these messages still hit me so hard man. This is a child!!! "You are a fucking monkey", "Cunt coon monkey nigger". Direct message to me from Patrick O'Brien on IG. This kid as a direct line into me & is able to send this without any worry. pic.twitter.com/6noGvmkb4u
— Ian Wright (@IanWright0) May 11, 2020
Show Racism the Red Card chief executive Ged Grebby condemned the abuse. "Ian Wright has put his head above the parapet again and I saw him on Match of the Day with Gary Lineker a few weeks ago talking about the racist abuse he suffered as a player," he said. "I'm sure he will be more than happy to report it. "There was an Asian reporter (Sima Kotecha) yesterday for the BBC and she was abused in the middle of Leicester. "It shows racism is society's problem and unfortunately it has been on the rise. People having been staying at home but it doesn't stop them abusing people on social media and this is a shocking example of that." Former Aston Villa forward Gabriel Agbonlahor was also sent a racist message on Instagram on Monday and Kick It Out called for those who targeted him and Wright to be punished. "We are appalled during this very trying time by the disgraceful abuse directed at Ian Wright and Gabriel Agbonlahor and their families," a statement read. "Racial hate speech and violent threats are totally unacceptable but have become sadly normalised on social media.
We are disgusted to see the racist abuse aimed at Ian Wright and Gabriel Agbonlahor and their families today. At any time, this is abhorrent behaviour, but when people should be coming together more than ever, it is particularly disturbing. https://t.co/q4HURdGkon — Professional Footballers' Association (@PFA) May 11, 2020
"Whilst we continue to collaborate with social media platforms to ensure a safer user experience for all, these cases should be investigated by law enforcement and the abusers should face criminal sanctions."