Barcelona star Lionel Messi has urged his followers to help put a stop to online abuse after the Argentine reached 200 million followers on Instagram.
The increasing rate of abuse and discrimination on social media networks has remained a cause for concern in recent weeks as football clubs in England abstained from the use of Twitter, Facebook and Instagram over the weekend in an attempt to tackle the problem.
Having reached 200 million followers on Instagram, Messi issued a plea to his followers, urging them to help fight racism and abuse.
“I see that I’ve just reached 200 million followers on Instagram, but given what is happening today, I’m not going to take it as a reason to celebrate,” Messi wrote on a post.
“I think the time has come to give importance to the people behind each profile, to realise that behind each account there is a person of flesh and blood.
“We live together seeing and experiencing abuse, more of it and worse each time on each network, without anyone doing anything to stop it.
“I would like you, the 200 million people who follow me, to become 200 million motivations to make social media networks safe and respectful places.”
UEFA also joined Premier League clubs, the Football Association (FA), English Football League (EFL) and Women’s Super League in refusing to post on social media over the weekend.
The boycott started on Friday afternoon and will run until Monday night.
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