Not a day seems to be going by now without professional footballers being subjected to vile, often racist, abuse online, with Watford’s Troy Deeney the latest to face a backlash.
His crime? Taking a stand on not going into training for the sake of his son’s health. That has, apparently, not sat well with certain followers of social media platforms.
“We are in a time where it’s all about mental health and everyone says: ‘Speak up, speak out. Please speak,’” he said to the Daily Mirror.
“For example, Danny Rose spoke out and I know Danny started using swear words, which wasn’t ideal. But then I spoke out and we just got absolutely hammered and battered for it. So players see that and say: ‘No. I’m not going to say something.’
“It’s not just me that gets it, the missus was receiving direct messages. She’d be walking down the street and people were like: ‘I’m at work, he should go back to work!’ I’m like: I’m not making them go back to work!’
“I saw some comments in regards to my son. People saying: ‘I hope your son gets coronavirus’ and stuff like that. That’s the hard part for me.
“It’s like racism. How many people have an opinion on the racism situation? Loads. How many say something publicly about it? A handful? You have to respect their decisions.
“People will say I was vindicated when I didn’t go in and Watford had three people test positive on the first round of testing.
“That changed peoples’ perception because they were like: ‘Oh, Troy was right.’
“But it wasn’t about being right. It was solely about what’s right for me and mine. People all around the world can appreciate that if you have a family health means much more than wealth.
“I’ve had a lot of messages from people that I wouldn’t normally – including players from bigger teams and clubs which shows me that I must be doing something right.”
Things are rapidly coming to a head now, as more and more players, and their families, have become targets for those who spew such bile from behind a keyboard.
For a method of communication that is meant to be open and inclusive to all, for many it’s anything but. What’s worse is that it appears, to this point at least, that the companies themselves remain powerless to stop the abuse from happening.
As it is, Deeney will shortly be returning to training in any event, according to the Daily Mirror, after having his initial fears regarding the coronavirus allayed.