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Messi reaches 200 million Instagram followers, calls for end to online abuse


Janet Osemudiamen

On Saturday, six-time Ballon d’Or winner, Lionel Messi, reached an important milestone — 200 million followers on Instagram, making him the second person to do so after football arch-rival, Cristiano Ronaldo, achieved the milestone last year’s January.

However, instead of celebrating it, the Argentine took the landmark as an opportunity to send a message against online abuse.

According to Tribuna, Lionel Messi writes on his instagram.

“I see that I have just reached the 200 million people who follow me on this network, however, because of what is happening today, I am not going to take it as a reason for celebration,” the FC Barcelona skipper announced.

Messi added, “Of course I appreciate all the love and support that I always receive from you, but I think the time has come to give importance to all the PEOPLE behind each profile, that we realize that behind each account there is a person flesh and blood, who laughs, cries, enjoys and suffers, human beings with feelings.”

Messi also showed solidarity to sporting organisations in the United Kingdom who, since 3 p.m. on Friday, began a social media boycott as a way of pressuring companies such as Twitter, Facebook, and Instagram, to do more to prevent and punish racist abuse that takes place on their platforms.

“Let’s raise our voices to stop abuse on social media, said Messi, “It does not matter if we are anonymous, famous, athletes, referees or followers of a game, even someone outside all this, it does not matter the race, religion, ideology or gender.

“No one deserves to be mistreated or insulted. We live together seeing and experiencing abuse, increasingly more and worse in each of the networks, without anyone doing anything to prevent it. We must strongly condemn these hostile attitudes and demand that the companies that run the networks take urgent action against these behaviours.

“I would like you, the 200 million people who accompany me, to become the 200 million reasons that exist to make the networks a safe and respectful place, where we can share what we want without fear of being insulted. And that insults, racism, abuse and discrimination remain outside of them forever.

“For you who are part of these networks and who are always with me, I hope you will accompany me and support me in this crusade. Big hug to all and congratulations to all the football people in the United Kingdom for their idea of putting together the campaign against abuse and discrimination in networks.”

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