From all the fallout resulting from a tumultuous Merseyside Derby, one of the most unfortunate is the amount of abuse that has been directed towards Everton players Jordan Pickford and Richarlison.
Pickford was lucky to not be sent off for throwing himself recklessly at Virgil van Dijk, a challenge that has since seen the Liverpool player severely injured and out for several months. There will also be no retrospective action taken against the England #1.
The vitriol did not end there either. Richarlison was rightfully red-carded for going studs-up at Thiago, and even though he tried to pull out of the sliding challenge after going over the ball, the Toffee could not avoid the contact and Michael Oliver had no hesitation in sending him off.
After the game, Richarlison released a statement apologizing to Thiago Alcantara, as well as to the fans in general. In a response to that tweet, the Everton #7 attempted to explain himself by tweeting a picture of himself pulling up with knees together as he clattered into the Liverpool player. However, that tweet was immediately inundated by irate Liverpool fans tweeting racist epithets among other very distasteful insults.
I mean, what in the world? pic.twitter.com/EjML9WOt0l— Royal Blue Mersey (@RBMersey) October 17, 2020
The Merseyside Derby, once dubbed the ‘friendly derby’, seems to have been overcome by the absolute cesspool that social media can be at it’s very worst - to the extent that all we will ever remember from the thriller will be this toxic fallout.
Since then, both Everton players have continued to receive an inordinate amount of slurs directed their way by the Reds fanbase to the point where Merseyside Police have chosen to step in now.
. @MerseyPolice say they're investigating number of offensive Tweets made in relation to 2 Everton players after the Merseyside derby. "Those who use the internet to make threats or commit hate crime are not beyond the law. Detectives are making enquiries to identify individuals" pic.twitter.com/gTUTDtqYFD— BBC Radio Merseyside (@bbcmerseyside) October 19, 2020
The full statement from the Merseyside Police is as follows -
“We are currently investigating a number of offensive Tweets made in relation to two Everton footballers.
“The language used in these Tweets is totally unacceptable and we are taking the reports extremely seriously.
“Those who use the internet to target others, and who commit criminal offences such as making threats, or committing a hate crime in doing so, are not beyond the law.
“Detectives are making enquiries to identify the individuals who posted the Tweets and where we identify offences we will take action to bring those responsible to justice.”
Fueled by the media and other prominent social media accounts screaming for ‘justice’, unfortunately it seems footballing incidents that happen every weekend will continue to be angrily rehashed ad nauseam with heavy doses of invective thrown in for good measure until the next incident.
Fans protesting referee’s decisions has been around since time immemorial, but this level of vilification can be directly attributed to the pervasive reach of social media. We wish Virgil van Dijk and Thiago Silva well, while also castigating those who choose to abuse Pickford and Richarlison, and applaud the Merseyside Police for investigating these tweets as hate crimes.
As one we can all say we want none of this in the game, from any fanbase, Everton’s included.