'Why is he in his bed?' Liverpool and England legend John Barnes says racism is a problem for society not just football - but viewers are distracted by his backdrop
- Three players including Man United's Paul Pogba were racially abused online
- Pogba, Tammy Abraham and Yakou Meite all missed penalties this week
- John Barnes was on Sky News talking about the appalling racism in society
- However, twitter users were commenting on the unusual background
Former Liverpool and England legend John Barnes gave a live TV interview today on the abhorrent level of racism in modern football... from his bed.
TV viewers watching the former midfielder discuss the issue with Kay Burley were impressed by what he had to say, although they appeared bemused by his choice of backdrop.
The 55-year-old former winger was sitting against what appeared to be the headboard of his bed during the late afternoon interview.
John Barnes spoke with Kay Burley today on Sky News to discuss last weekends outrageous racist attacks against three players including Manchester United's Paul Pogba
Barnes, 55, has been a vocal critic of racism in society following a string of high profile attacks
Some twitter users suggested the former Liverpool and England winger was in bed
Many users on Twitter said Barnes was making great points during the interview, although they were slightly perplexed by his positioning.
He was commenting in the aftermath of sickening abuse received by Chelsea striker Tammy Abraham, Reading's Yakou Meite and Manchester United midfielder Paul Pogba, who all failed to score penalties for their respective teams in the past week.
Barnes told Sky News: 'It’s a problem in society and not football. The more we talk about it in football, the more society absolves itself. We are told that football can do something in the stadium for 90 minutes – no racist abuse.
‘What can football do about someone on a Monday night or a Tuesday morning on their phone on social media. This is a social problem.
‘Yes, they may be Man United fans, but they are also members of society, and until we target society and put together an education programme to let people know why it’s wrong to be racist, rather than blaming social media or blaming football, it will continue.’
Barnes said it was not an issue for the FA if a member of society wants to get on their mobile phone and start racially abusing someone.
‘It is nothing to do with football and nothing to do with the FA. What we have got to do is let people know that it’s wrong to be racist.’
Barnes said laws are not going to do anything to stop this problem. He said if the troll was a milkman, does that make milkmen racist.
‘No, it doesn’t. It is a societal problem and that is how we have got to deal with it.’
Pogba's treatment prompted a rapid response from his club, which issued a strong statement on Tuesday morning to condemn the abuse and urge social media companies 'to take action'.
The French star's teammates Marcus Rashford and Jesse Lingard have both tweeted their support, too, while United defender Harry Maguire has suggested that people should only be able to open social media accounts if they provide proof of identity.
England Women's manager Neville, who played nearly 400 games for United, agrees with Maguire but believes companies like Twitter will only act if they are forced to do so.
The unusual background caused a great deal of comment among people on twitter
Mark Coughlan said Barnes was 'knocking it out of the park' despite being in bed
Another user said the interview position was 'perfectly normal behaviour'
Callum Chadwick was impressed by the interview between Barnes and Kay Burley
Speaking to reporters at St George's Park, the Lionesses boss said the most recent outbreak of overt racism on social media shows the problem is 'not going away' despite the positive work being done by anti-discrimination groups such as Kick It Out and the football authorities.
'I think we probably have to take drastic measures now as a football community - I've had it with my players on social media, the Premier League stars and the Championship have had it,' said Neville.
'I just wonder whether as a football community we come off social media. Because Twitter won't do anything about it, Instagram won't do anything about it - they send you an email reply saying they'll investigate but nothing happens.
Tom Gillespie wanted to know why John Barnes was lying down in bed during the interview
Dave Kayfabe said Barnes was making 'great points' while being interviewed from his bed
'I've lost total faith in whoever runs these social media departments, so let's send a powerful message: come off social media (for) six months. Let's see the effect it has on these social media companies.'
Whether enough broadcasters, clubs, leagues, players and sponsors would avoid social media for so long is debatable but the Professional Footballers' Association did organise a successful boycott in April following a spate of racist incidents targeting Danny Rose and Raheem Sterling.
Manchester United midfielder Paul Pogba, pictured, received online abuse after missing a penalty on Monday night at Wolves
Neville said his players are regularly subjected to abuse online and he reminded the room of the appalling death and rape threats that were sent to Karen Carney following a Champions League game between Chelsea and Fiorentina last year.
'My players get that kind of abuse all the time, whether it's racist, whether it's sexist, whether it's homophobic, they get that kind of abuse,' he said.
'Nothing gets done about it - that's why I've lost faith in social media companies.'
Asked if the football industry should collectively sit down and discuss this with social media companies, Neville said: 'Don't we have that? Don't we have a task force? The FA are doing everything possible, the Premier League have got campaigns and are doing everything possible.
'We're plugging holes here and then there's leaks elsewhere, and I'm just focusing on the social media aspect of what Paul went through last night, Tammy last week, my players daily.'
Twitter responded to 'strongly condemn' the online abuse aimed at players and revealed it had 'permanently suspended a series of accounts'.
The social media company is in dialogue with the PFA and Kick It Out but, in a statement released to the PA news agency, claimed 'this is a societal issue and requires a societal response'.
Twitter's statement read: 'We're fully aware of and share the concerns surrounding online racist abuse towards certain footballers in the UK over recent days.
'We strongly condemn this unacceptable behaviour, and have now permanently suspended a series of accounts for violating our Hateful Conduct Policy.
Several Manchester United players have come out in support of Pogba while the club has also strongly condemned the actions of a minority of fans on social media
'We're proactively monitoring the conversation online and will continue taking robust action on any account which violates our Rules.
'This is a societal issue and requires a societal response. This is why we maintain a dialogue with both the PFA and Kick It Out and are committed to working together to address abusive online and racist behaviour across the industry.
'We continue to liaise closely with our partners to identify meaningful solutions to this unacceptable behaviour - both offline and on.'