It is getting harder for footballers to survive the social media abusers | Jason Stockwood

Telling young players to stop online interaction is all but impossible, but real connection requires effort and empathy

Umberto Eco made a provocative statement about social media when receiving an honorary degree in Turin in 2015: it “gives legions of idiots the right to speak when they once only spoke at a bar after a glass of wine, without harming the community. Then they were quickly silenced, but now they have the same right to speak as a Nobel prize winner.” While I do not entirely agree with this sentiment, there is some truth to it, particularly in the realm of football, where social media has significantly altered the share of voice between clubs and some fans.

I missed the Denmark v England game owing to a work commitment but ventured online to gauge reactions to England being top of their group in the Euros. The vitriol against Gareth Southgate after the draw was incredible. Our most successful national manager since 1966 became the target of memes about boredom, safety and mediocrity. Simultaneously, Steve Cooper, one of the most progressive and well-respected British coaches, was appointed by Leicester City. A tweet from someone with 400 followers saying “What happened to his face?” garnered 1.5m views. The fury directed at Southgate during the win against Slovakia that took his team to a fourth consecutive major tournament quarter-final was remarkable.

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