Imagine you are an inexperienced, yet talented director trying to make a name for yourself in the film industry. You have invested countless hours into making this film a huge success.
The movie is finally released but several abusive comments on social media affect confidence and your willingness to direct another film. You fade into the background, never to fulfil your once accredited potential.
Research tells us that 134,000 abusive messages were sent to football players and clubs through social media. Messages included in this research include racist, homophobic, sexist and other discriminatory remarks sent by people from August to March, 2015.
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Social media is a magnificent tool, no doubt. Online platforms bring fans from across the globe together to share opinions, but for the majority of professional footballers, this cauldron of negativity can effect even the strongest of personalities.
Liverpool striker Mario Balotelli is the most abused Premier League footballer on social media. The Italian was subject to over 4,000 racist posts in the past year, with around 8,000 abusive comments in total. The majority, including myself, have scrutinised Balotelli's performances on and off the pitch but these damning reports puts his delicate situation into perspective.
Daniel Sturridge and Danny Welbeck are also subject to abuse on social media. England international Welbeck received 1,700 abusive messages on while Sturridge received 1,600 abusive comments.
The fact that 50 per cent of the abusive posts directed at Arsenal forward Welbeck were racist reiterates that racial attacks are yet to be removed from the game.
Lack of reporting
Just 140 cases of all forms of discrimination on social media were reported between August and March. This lack of serious action has the potential to become a huge concern for future generations. The next talent could be in a position to quit the sport as a result of the sheer complacency towards abusive messages on social media.
In 2012, A Twitter 'troll' was sentenced to 56 days in prison for posting offensive comments on Twitter after Fabrice Muamba suffered an cardiac arrest. Did this punishment make any sort of impact towards offensive comments on social media?
Recently, the wife of former England footballer Phil Neville revealed the horrific reality of the abuse she, her husband and their disabled daughter over social media. Neville's wife called for tougher restrictions on those who abuse online.
The reality of social media abuse in football is starting to effect performances on and off the pitch, personally and professionally.
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