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“As I say, criticise the player” Granit Xhaka reveals horrible truth of his online abuse

“As I say, criticise the player” Granit Xhaka reveals horrible truth of his online abuse

Arteta calls for social media action

The emergence of social media over the last two decades has brought with it ways for fans to interact with players and bring them closer to the stars than ever before. Instead of simply watching their team’s players kick the ball around the field on the television or in the stands they can also message them via their Instagram accounts and tweet them through Twitter.

A supporter, one who is completely new to the world of social media, may naively think that this would be to send messages of support and admiration to their heroes. However, social media has become a much darker place and anonymous accounts have been used to send messages of abuse in the form of hate, racism, sexism, homophobia and much more.

Arsenal manager Mikel Arteta has recently spoken of the responsibility that companies need to take in order to find these criminals who have been empowered by the platforms and enabled to send what they choose.

“There are all types of different abuses and I think it has to be eradicated completely,” he said. “I think social media has a big responsibility on that, because then you talk about the mental health of the players and public and how exposed they are.”

“As I say, criticise the player” Granit Xhaka reveals horrible truth of his online abuse

Arsenal manager Mikel Arteta on the touchline during the Premier League match at the Emirates Stadium, London. (Photo by Andy Rain/PA Images via Getty Images)

“I am all open and I’m for people to have their opinions, but not just to be insulting people, abusing people and using a screen on a mobile phone to tell whatever you want to a person you don’t even know.”

Arteta feels that the companies need to play a bigger part in eradicating the problem.

“That for me has to be eradicated, because it is causing a lot of damage in football and a lot of damage to public people. So I think we have to be really strong on that and I think they [social media companies] as well have a big part to play to support us and the industry here.”

Granit Xhaka opens up on online abuse

During his time at Arsenal, Granit Xhaka has polarised supporters regarding his performances on the pitch through some top showings but also the conceding of red cards and mistakes leading to goals.

One of the most famous incidents occurred in 2019 against Crystal Palace whilst the Switzerland international was captain of the club. After having a relatively under par performance against the South London side, the at the time coach Unai Emery brought off the midfielder to a chorus of celebrations from the home fans.

The midfielder reacted to this and was seen gesticulating his arms and mouthing some unsavoury comments in return. This led to a stripping off his captaincy and a torrent of abuse from people online. Xhaka described this to the Guardian and said that there are times the criticism goes too far.

“There have to be boundaries to the criticism,” Xhaka said. “For example, there should be no references to any player’s family, personal attacks and certainly no mention of any player’s children. Criticise the player and his game by all means but keep it within that area. Don’t go too far.

“I had the big thing against Palace … I’ve also had the Burnley issue … and October 2019 was the hardest time for me as a footballer. But the attacks on my wife and the targeted comments about my daughter, my friends – that’s really beyond the pale. One of the problems is we don’t know who is writing this stuff; this is the nature of social media.”

“As I say, criticise the player” Granit Xhaka reveals horrible truth of his online abuse

LONDON, ENGLAND – OCTOBER 28: Granit Xhaka of Arsenal reacts as Referee, Martin Atkinson awards Crystal Palace a penalty during the Premier League match between Crystal Palace and Arsenal FC at Selhurst Park on October 28, 2018 in London, United Kingdom. (Photo by Catherine Ivill/Getty Images)

Xhaka has questioned why people feel the need to do such horrible things referencing recent abuse targeted at Manchester United forward Anthony Martial.

“As I say, criticise the player. I’m the one on the pitch. But your family and friends are nothing to do with it. It’s happened recently with Anthony Martial and his wife receiving some hostile comments. You have to ask yourself: ‘Why?’”

There has been no indication that social media companies will be acting more seriously regarding these incidents and therefore the abuse is likely set to continue with little which can be done to identify the perpetrators.

Granit Xhaka: One year on from the famous incident against Crystal Palace / The redemption under a new coach

Man United release statement slamming ‘mindless idiots’, after Martial & Tuanzebe subjected to racial abuse


This article was edited by Josh Barker.

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