French president Emmanuel Macron will meet with Twitter, Facebook and YouTube CEOs on Tuesday to urge them to investigate extremist content and filter extremist content from their services. But Manchester United striker Romelu Lukaku wants football executives to meet privately as well. In an interview with Maclean’s, the 25-year-old Belgian said it is “in the interest of all athletes, footballers especially, because football is so popular, so many people follow us on social media.”
Lukaku said he has grown “really frustrated” with the issue of extremist content and that he does not think it is just the tech companies’ problem alone to resolve. “It is quite disappointing, I know football is a pretty serious business,” he said. “The world is a very divided place, especially politically and racially. I think the tech companies in charge of social media need to do a lot more. Not because football players need to talk to them to come up with an answer, but I think football players have a lot to say as well.”
Lukaku, who is one of the most popular soccer players in the world with a whopping 45.8 million followers on Twitter, said he does not believe football players should have anything to worry about and should focus on the court of public opinion instead. “I think now football players need to really be careful what we post, which is quite difficult for me,” he said. “For football players, on the football field, that we always play to win but you always feel good with the fans when you play good. I think it is in the interest of all athletes, footballers especially, because football is so popular, so many people follow us on social media.”
When asked if he would consider using his celebrity status to lobby the CEO of Facebook and Twitter to do more, he said he would do it the only way he knew how. “I will make my pitch to everyone, on football field, on Twitter,” he said. “I can make my pitch to everyone on the football field but then the world is watching you and the first thing they will see is on Twitter. They are all in TV, on Instagram, on Twitter. So the first thing they will see is my tweet. So I can make my pitch on Twitter or on Facebook or on Instagram. I can just make my pitch to myself.”
What self-respecting soccer star would ever do this to a female reporter?
He’s not many, but he made a major donation to a football team on Super Bowl Sunday