Sun. Oct 24th, 2021

Chelsea manager Emma Hayes would “100 per cent” recommend her players to come off social media and fears serious consequences if abusive messages are allowed to continue.

Speaking in an exclusive interview with CNN, Hayes said she regularly witnesses the kind of abuse her players face and believes the issue has reached a point where, if social media companies do not act further, she could envisage a footballer committing suicide.

Asked if she would take all of her players off social media, Hayes said: “100 per cent. Yeah, I would if I could, but we have to live with it. And if we’re going to live with it, then those that profit from it should take responsibility. And if not, our national governments should force them to eradicate a culture of hate.

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“I have to live it every day. I have to manage young people that are maybe flavour of the month, so to speak, online and then treated so despicably the next, maybe even by the same people – and then the impact that has on them and their internal struggle, that translates into massive underperformance.

“I feel that social media, while it is a force for good in so many ways, I think if that doesn’t change quite quickly, we will be talking about some of the more severe ends of perhaps people taking their lives with some of the abuse that they experience online.

“I see what it does to their mood, I see what it does to their mindset, I see what it does to their confidence.

“There is no denying there are vulnerable athletes with mental health issues across the board that – off the back of a bad game or off of being a woman, or being gay, or being of different colour, or ethnicity – experience vile, abusive messages that could certainly put them in a position where they could contemplate [suicide].”

Hayes was speaking at the launch of Chelsea’s “No To Hate” photography contest in which they are aiming to harness football’s power to promote greater diversity and inclusion.

She added: “I always think when you’re in a women’s football environment, these are conversations that don’t need to happen in our environments because they exist.

“I think I’ve always felt that the general wider football world has had to wake up about these two topics because so many people were brought up not having an appreciation or an understanding of what those two words mean.

“And that’s not always the fault of just what goes on at home, but a failure in our society, failure in education, of teaching people to understand that we’re not all white male and privileged.”

If you are affected by issues related to this piece or want to talk, please contact the Samaritans on the free helpline 116 123, or visit the website.

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