Is the Ability to Connect with Footballers on Social Media a Good Thing?
Fans are now able to get closer to footballers than ever before, connecting with them on social media and commenting on their posts. This can bring about positives, and it can provide a sense of bonding between clubs and their fanbases.
However, there are many negative factors that come with this. Indeed, some players have fallen victim to cyberbullying, and this can sometimes have a detrimental effect on their performances on the pitch.
The Rise of Cyberbullying
Cyberbullying is a pernicious issue throughout society, not just in football. Anyone who uses the internet needs to know how to stay safe and post with privacy. They can do this by removing location metadata or limiting who can see certain posts. There’s also the option for internet users to remove tagging permission on social media.
The problem for footballers is that, as celebrities who are constantly in the public eye, they can’t do these things. Therefore, they are out in the open and easy targets for cyberbullies. The bullying of these stars can range from mean comments to more serious forms of abuse, and the issue is getting worse every year.
Because of the increase in online harassment aimed at footballers, some are beginning to question whether being on social media is a good thing for the players. Many have even got together to boycott social media in the past in an attempt to highlight the problem.
Harassed Famous Players
The list of players who have faced online abuse is getting longer every year. The problem for footballers is that they can barely put a foot wrong. If they make the slightest mistake, members of fickle fanbases will jump on them.
Patrick Bamford is an example of a player who was adversely affected by hurtful comments online during Leeds United’s promotion push from the Championship. His social media team had to remove comments from his Instagram. He also famously celebrated a goal by covering his ears, highlighting how he didn’t believe those who had bullied him had the right to cheer.
There are also players who have fallen victim to more serious and harmful forms of abuse. After missing penalties at Euro 2020, Marcus Rashford and Bukayo Saka were both victims of online racism and this highlighted the need for the football world to do more to stamp this out.
Rashford and Henderson Helping to Raise Awareness
There are plenty of players who have been trying to raise awareness of the issues that footballers are facing on social media. Rashford is one of the most outspoken figures in the sport, and he always ensures that he calls out the criminals who engage in this despicable behaviour.
Jordan Henderson is another famous face who is constantly campaigning against cyberbullying. He recently handed his social media accounts over to the Cybersmile Foundation to try to raise awareness of the dangerous effects of online abuse.
Connecting with footballers would be a great thing if everyone could be trusted to be pleasant and courteous online. The sad fact is that there are cyberbullies out there who seem content on hurting some of these players. The football world needs to do more to eradicate this.