🔴 EOTK Insider Opinion: Carragher's got a point with Wijnaldum's contract but missed the mark on online abuse ✍️
We can't risk shifting the blame from the abuser to the abused
It goes without saying that social media abuse should not be a thing in this modern day and age.
The reality, sadly, is that it continues to be and certainly will remain prevalent whilst those in charge of social media fail to vigilantly police such behaviour and political leaders enable racial abuse by collectively burying their heads in the sand.
Opening up on the reasons behind his summer departure from Liverpool, ex-Anfield favourite Georginio Wijnaldum pointed to online abuse as a factor behind his decision to not extend his stay in Merseyside.
“My feeling was that the fans in the stadium and the fans on social media were two different kinds,” the central midfielder told The Times.
“The fans in the stadium always supported me. Even when they came back [after the Covid lockout], already knowing that I was going to leave, they still supported me and, in the end, they gave me a great farewell.
“On social media, if we lost, I was the one who got the blame.
“There was a moment when I was like: ‘Wow. If they only knew what I was doing to stay fit and play every game.’”
Throwing in his two cents on the matter of the 31-year-old’s free transfer away from L4, former Reds defender Jamie Carragher suggested that the player’s motivations for leaving the club boiled down to the terms offered rather than the abuse suffered.
Liverpool FC News @LivEchoLFCGini Wijnaldum breaks silence over Liverpool exit and points finger at social media abuse #LFC https://t.co/FNE0lXx6Db
Here’s the thing: Wijnaldum has absolutely every right to call out the fans responsible for making him feel unwelcome. Make no mistake about that.
It’s critical that such behaviour is highlighted and challenged as the Dutchman has in his comments to the publication in question.
As I’m sure the vast majority of fans will agree: if there’s even one supporter whose abusive behaviour is allowed to fall through the cracks unchallenged, it’s a failure on the part of those responsible for setting boundaries on social media.
Likewise, however, Carragher is right to point out that social media abuse isn’t an issue endemic to Liverpool specifically.
Sadly, it’s a likelihood that the player - much as any other, to varying degrees - is at risk of receiving abuse in the French capital should reactionary members of the fanbase deem a performance this coming season sub-par.
That being said, advising a player to merely shut off their social media if they can’t hack the abuse is wide of the mark, plain and simple.
We’ve no doubt that the former Liverpool defender would agree that such treatment is unacceptable.
We understand the Sky Sports pundit is practically arguing that the ex-No.5 would have probably remained in Merseyside anyway had an offer more tailored to the midfielder’s liking been tabled by the club.
He’d likely be correct in that instance.
However, it’s worth pointing out that it’s not the responsibility of players to put up or shut up when it comes to online abuse.
Advising the Dutch international as such, unintended or not, shifts the blame from the abuser to the abused.
Yes, the terms tabled by the club are widely acknowledged to have directly impacted Wijnaldum’s decision to run down his contract.
That being said, we cannot overlook the effect of social media abuse - it’s perfectly plausible that it likewise factored into the midfielder’s decision-making.
Further to the point, it has once again highlighted a continued failing on the part of those caretakers responsible for protecting users against the harmful behaviour of others.
As such, placing the responsibility on players and everyday online users who are subjected to a range of abuse will simply not be conducive to tackling this ongoing issue.
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