Newcastle condemns abuse toward Guimarães and Willock as Arsenal rages at match officials

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Newcastle condemned Sunday the discriminatory abuse sent to Bruno Guimarães and Joe Willock in the wake of a controversy-laden Premier League match against Arsenal that has sparked heavy criticism by the London club about the standard of officiating in England’s top division.

Willock, who is Black, used his Instagram account to highlight racist messages he received after Newcastle's 1-0 win on Saturday. He is a former Arsenal player and was involved in the build-up to the only goal scored by Anthony Gordon that survived a lengthy video review for three possible infringements.

Guimarães, a Brazil international, was also involved in some of the most heated incidents of the match at St. James' Park.

Newcastle said it “strongly condemns” the abuse toward its midfielders, adding: “We are providing support to Bruno and Joe and will work with relevant authorities and social media platforms to identify those responsible so that they can be held to account.”

Kick It Out, a leading anti-discrimination group in soccer, called on social media companies to offer better safeguards against the abuse.

“Sadly, this has been an almost weekly occurrence this season, and the costs on players’ mental health are huge," the group said.

Arsenal hasn't commented on the discriminatory messages, choosing instead to direct its ire toward the match officials.

Arsenal manager Mikel Arteta said he felt “ashamed," “embarrassed” and that it was a “disgrace” and the club said it “wholeheartedly supports” his comments about what it perceived to be “unacceptable refereeing and VAR errors.”

“The Premier League is the best league in the world with the best players, coaches and supporters, all of whom deserve better,” Arsenal said. “(The referees' body) urgently needs to address the standard of officiating and focus on action which moves us all on from retrospective analysis, attempted explanations and apologies.”

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AP soccer: https://apnews.com/hub/soccer