Soccer-Former West Ham defender Anton Ferdinand urges social media companies to tackle racist abuse

FILE PHOTO: Football - Sheffield Wednesday v Reading - Sky Bet Football League Championship - Hillsborough - 19/8/15 Anton Ferdinand of Reading waves to the fans after the game Mandatory Credit: Action Images / Ed Sykes Livepic

(Reuters) - Former West Ham United and Queens Park Rangers defender Anton Ferdinand on Wednesday asked social media companies to address the problem of racist abuse on their platforms before a high-profile footballer "takes their life".

Ferdinand was appearing before the UK Parliament's Home Affairs Committee inquiry into online abuse. Others who spoke at the inquiry included former Watford forward Marvin Sordell and former England Women's international Lianne Sanderson.

Ferdinand mentioned the torrent of racist abuse he faced online and in stadiums over the years and how it had impacted his mental health.

"My worry is what are the social media companies waiting for? Are they waiting for a high-profile footballer to kill themselves, or a member of their family to commit suicide," he told MPs.

"Is that what they are waiting for? Because if that is what they are waiting for, that is too late. Let's deal with the issue now."

The 36-year-old added that companies should use technology to identify inappropriate tweets before they are sent out, and talked about the need for an account owner's identity to be known, at least to the companies themselves.

"They don't want to implement technology because if I retweet a racist tweet that has been put my way, the frenzy around it is monetary to them," he said.

(Reporting by Dhruv Munjal in Bengaluru; Editing by Christian Radnedge)

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