Arsenal, Leeds condemn online abuse of Pepe, Alioski

Soccer Football - Premier League - Leeds United v Arsenal - Elland Road, Leeds, Britain - November 22, 2020 Arsenal's Nicolas Pepe leaves the pitch after he is sent off Pool via REUTERS/Molly Darlington

(Reuters) - Arsenal and Leeds United have condemned abuse aimed at Nicolas Pepe and Ezgjan Alioski on social media following their clash during Sunday's goalless draw in the Premier League.

Arsenal winger Pepe was sent off after VAR officials spotted that he had head-butted Leeds' Macedonian defender Alioski, with referee Anthony Taylor taking a look at the monitor before brandishing the red card.

British media reported that the two players were subjected to racial abuse from rival supporters after the game.

"We utterly condemn the vile abuse directed at Nicolas Pepe and Ezgjan Alioski on social media following our match against Leeds United," Arsenal said in a statement.

"This is completely unacceptable and we will be working with the police and authorities to do everything we can to trace and prosecute the culprits."

Leeds released a similar statement, saying they would not tolerate such abuse.

The growth of social media has fuelled discriminatory abuse towards footballers in recent years.

Crystal Palace defender Patrick van Aanholt and winger Wilfried Zaha are among players who have called on social media platforms to take stricter action against racism after they were targeted.

Manchester United's Marcus Rashford and Paul Pogba have also been victims of online abuse.

(Reporting by Arvind Sriram in Bengaluru, editing by Ed Osmond)

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