The Gunners attacker has called on the authorities to get tough on those who racially abuse players on social media
Willian says the time has come for the authorities to take action and help football’s fight against racism and online abuse.
The Arsenal attacker is one of several high-profile figures who has shared the abuse he has received on social media this season and admits it has left him fearful at times to even pick up his phone.
And the 32-year-old says something has to change, calling on everyone – both within football and outside of it – to come together to help make a difference in the fight against racism.
What has been said?
Speaking about the abuse that he has suffered, Willian said: “It has been difficult to talk about.
“We as players, we cannot do a lot. We do what we can do. We report it. We share it with you guys (the press) and we speak about that, but we want action.
“I think we have to try to find a way to stop it because it is difficult when people say horrible words about you, about your family, that’s not good.
“They can criticise us in relation to what we do on the pitch. I have no problem with that, no problem at all. If they want to criticise me, what I am doing on the pitch, if I have to play better, if I have to train more – yes, I will accept that.
“But when they come to attack you with horrible words, your family, that’s not good. So, we have to stop it and try to find a way to stop it.”
Willian continued: “It really affects me when they say about my family.
“As I said before, if they want to criticise me, it’s no problem, I always accept that. But when they come to attack your family with those words, that hurts. It’s a big problem.”
How bad have things got?
Willian says the issue has now become so big that he often finds himself afraid to look at his phone after games.
“Yes, sometimes,” he admitted. “I was in that situation a month ago.
“It was very difficult for me because I have a lot of friends on my phone and I was seeing a lot of horrible words against my family, for example.
“I have seen some people are deleting their social media because of racism and the abuse.
“Straight away, I want to do that. But then when you think, take a few minutes and relax a little bit more [it changes]. But the first reaction is to delete.
“After that, I say to myself that enough is enough. You have to try to do something to take action against racism, online abuse, and I am proud because the club (Arsenal) are doing that.
“They are helping us a lot. I will never stop my fight against racism.”
What does Willian want to happen?
The Brazil international says the time has come for action to be taken.
He wants social media companies to demand the personal details of those who want to open an account and he wants the football authorities to exert their influence to help drive through the change.
“We need action and we as players, can do what we can do,” he said. “We need the authorities to do the action.
“We have to find a way to change the profile of social media. I think people who want to have Instagram, Twitter, Facebook, they need to put their ID, passport or whatever.
“And then when these things happen, we can catch them, the authorities can catch them. That’s the action that we want.”