West Ham have announced they have contacted police and social media companies regarding “a number of racist and abusive messages” sent to defender Hawa Cissoko after the 2-1 win at Aston Villa last weekend.
Saturday’s Women’s Super League contest at the Poundland Bescot Stadium saw Cissoko sent off late on following an altercation with Villa’s Sarah Mayling.
Cissoko posted a message on Twitter later that day saying: “It’s lucky that not much affects me! Because some nonsense and (very aggressive) insults are flying around! It makes you want to kill yourself!”
On Thursday, the 25-year-old France international’s club released a statement that said: “West Ham United can confirm that we have reported a number of racist and abusive messages directed at our player Hawa Cissoko following Saturday’s Barclays Women’s Super League fixture against Aston Villa.
“While we in no way condone Hawa’s actions on the pitch, for which she has apologised, everyone at the club is disgusted by the hateful content of the online messages subsequently sent to her. They have been passed directly to the police and reported to the relevant social media companies.
“There is no place for this in society and we condemn it unreservedly. Hawa continues to receive the full support of everyone at the club, including through our dedicated employee assistance programme, which provides care and protection for the wellbeing of all staff.
“West Ham United continues to be unequivocal in its stance – we have a zero-tolerance approach to any form of discrimination. Equality, diversity and inclusion are at the heart of the football club, and we urge social media platforms and regulatory authorities to strengthen their measures to prevent this abhorrent behaviour.”
Cissoko herself posted a tweet that said: “”Black ass, n****, hello Africa, Antonio, Lukaku, Kamini” and so on! For reacting to an action? But what do my origins, my skin colour and my physique have to do with this story? Alala”
She also posted a message that said: “I would like to express my sincere regret for my actions towards the end of the match on Saturday.
“There was no excuse for my reaction, especially as I am considered to be a role model for others. I would like to apologise to my opponent, my team-mates and our supporters.
“In contrast to those finding pleasure in sending me abusive and hateful messages, a massive thank you to those who have sent me words of support.”
Earlier, Villa boss Carla Ward described online abuse suffered by both Cissoko and Mayling as “horrific” and “absolutely unacceptable”.
Speaking at her press conference ahead of Saturday’s trip to Everton, Ward said: “Sarah and Hawa have been subject to some, quite honestly, horrific abuse online, both of them.
“They’re both human beings, good human beings at that. They’ve been involved in an altercation that’s happened in a highly-charged and emotional game, and I’m sure they’re both very sorry for the incident that happened.
“But the fact of the matter is neither of them, nobody deserves to have to go through what they went through in terms of that online abuse.”
She added: “She (Mayling) has been great. We sat down with her when she returned on Monday, because we saw a lot of it on Sunday.
“It’s continued all week, but we’ve told her to stay off social media and focus on football, and she’s done exactly that, she’s done brilliantly. Nobody should be subject to that. I think the abuse for both of them has been absolutely unacceptable.”
After Cissoko’s dismissal, West Ham boss Paul Konchesky was also shown a red card for his involvement in a subsequent altercation.
Reflecting on that incident, Ward said: “I immediately told my staff to walk away and let the ref deal with the onslaught of the West Ham bench. So we defused it fairly quickly.
“I have to credit my staff and our players. I can honestly say anyone that’s represented Aston Villa has conducted themselves in the right way.”
Asked if she was expecting fines from the Football Association for Villa or West Ham, she said: “I don’t think for us. You hope that the FA review that and make their decisions based on the evidence provided.”