Blackpool boss urges action against online abuse of players

Blackpool head coach Neil Critchley says more stringent action is required to clamp down on online abuse.

Wednesday, 14th April 2021, 8:00 am

It comes after Championship sides Swansea City and Birmingham City announced week-long boycotts of social media platforms in order to combat continued abuse and discrimination.

It’s since been mooted that all EFL clubs could take part in a complete social media boycott this weekend, one that would see clubs’ official Twitter, Facebook and Instagram accounts remain dormant from Friday to Monday.

Two years ago, a number of footballers took part in the #Enough campaign – a 24-hour social media boycott in protest at a similar spate of abuse.

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Blackpool head coach Neil Critchley

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However, there has been a recent increase in abusive messages being sent to players.

“You’re asking the wrong person about social media because I’ve never been near it and I don’t entertain it,” Critchley told The Gazette.

“We’re all aware of what’s happening at the moment though. We have discussed it but we haven’t acted upon that yet.

“I wouldn’t want to go too far into discussing that but each club is taking their own appropriate action.

“It’s very sad though. We’re all at that stage now where it feels very deflating and it makes me quite sad when I read it. You think ‘not again’.

“Why should human beings actually have to suffer this type of abuse on a regular basis? I just can’t understand it.

“I don’t understand why there’s so much hatred in people that they want to hide behind social media and try and inflict pain or hurt on another human being just because of their ethnicity. It’s just totally, totally wrong. It’s disgusting.

“If there is anything we can do and feel is appropriate as a club and as a game and as a sport, then I think we should be doing everything we can to eradicate it.

“I know clubs are doing that and Sky Sports, the FA etc, but it hasn’t solved anything at the moment and there needs to be a greater push.

“I’m not educated enough or experienced enough to know what the answer is at the moment, but if we can support it or I can support it in some way and if it helps one per cent, then of course we’ll do it.”

Fortunately no racist or discriminatory abuse has been reported to Critchley by one of his players this season, but it is something he experienced in his previous job.

“I’ve not had anything this season, but it happened during my time at Liverpool on the pitch a couple of times in European games,” Critchley continued.

“It wasn’t a nice experience, it really wasn’t. You have an emotional attachment to these boys and, unless you’re in their shoes, it’s very hard to know how you’d deal with it.

“You just have to be there for them and support them, but it was incredibly difficult.

“I’ve not had it this season but it is something I’ve experienced before in the past unfortunately.”

Last week, a spokesman for the EFL described online abuse as a “scourge” on society and called on social media companies to take action.

“The merits of taking collective action were debated by clubs (on Thursday) with consideration being given to scheduling further activity before the end of the current season,” they added.

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