Atlanta United’s Anton Walkes a victim of racial abuse online

Atlanta United defender Anton Walkes (right) kicks the ball during the first half Sunday, May 23, 2021, against Sounders in Seattle. (Ted S. Warren/AP)
Caption
Atlanta United defender Anton Walkes (right) kicks the ball during the first half Sunday, May 23, 2021, against Sounders in Seattle. (Ted S. Warren/AP)

Credit: Ted S. Warren

Credit: Ted S. Warren

Atlanta United centerback Anton Walkes was the subject of racial abuse on one of his social media accounts following the team’s 2-2 draw on Sunday with Philadelphia at Mercedes-Benz Stadium.

Walkes, who scored a goal in the game, shared online images of the abuse he received. The abuse consisted of a series of emojis that can be considered racist.

The club on Monday issued the following statement:

“Atlanta United does not tolerate hateful or racist language or behavior in any form, at any time. The disgusting comments directed at Anton Walkes on Instagram were made through an anonymous, non-affiliated account and are unacceptable regardless of the source. Our club stands with Anton, and will continue to be aggressive in our fight against discrimination.”

Walkes, a 24-year-old native of England, is in his second stint with the club.

FIFA, soccer’s governing body, is taking steps in its confederations around the world to try to eliminate racist and discriminatory behavior directed at players and others involved with the sport. For example, last week, it ruled that the Mexico men’s team must play two games with no one in the stands because of a chant used by some of it supporters in several games.

Atlanta United in its short history has worked toward raising awareness of civil rights. Last week, it announced that revenues from the sale of its Unity kit will go to the National Center for Civil and Human Rights at Centennial Park. The club’s supporters on Sunday unveiled a tifo featuring former congressman John Lewis, a civil rights hero, featuring two of his famous quotes as part of the league’s Juneteenth celebration. Dr. Bernice King, daughter of Martin Luther and Coretta Scott King, was part of the pre-game ceremony.

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