Social media can be ‘dangerous’ for soccer players, says Premier League star Yoane Wissa
By Ben Church, Darren Lewis, Zayn Nabbi, CNN
Premier League player Yoane Wissa has told CNN that he restricts the amount of time he spends on social media due to amount of abuse soccer stars receive online.
The Brentford FC forward says that while social media platforms can help him communicate with his fans, they can also be a “dangerous” place not only for players but for their extended family.
“We have to because it can be dangerous for players, for the confidence, for the families,” Wissa told CNN’s Darren Lewis when asked about how he restricts his time online.
“Even my family, I told my mum to not watch everything.
“It’s like this, when people get frustrated they just post in that moment. But when it gets personal, it gets personal for a long time so it’s important to restrict it.”
His comments come amid a landmark ruling in which a 24-year-old man was banned from every UK stadium for three years after he racially abused Wissa’s Brentford teammate Ivan Toney on Instagram in October 2022.
Wissa, who plays for DR Congo and has been a vital part of Brentford’s impressive season, says his club teammates have tried to support Toney as much as possible as the 27-year-old continues to be targeted with racist abuse online.
In February, Brentford striker Toney again received a barrage of abuse after scoring an equalizing goal against Arsenal in his side’s 1-1 draw.
“Just stay with him, stay together, it’s not easy for him to get abused every time,” Wissa, 26, says when asked how he has tried to help Toney.
“I’m a Black person so it’s on me as well. So that’s why I wanted to talk with him, to stay with him and do something [to be] together.”
Meta, which owns Facebook and Instagram, told CNN that “no one should have to experience racist abuse anywhere, and we don’t want it on our platforms.”
A spokesperson added: “Over the last few years, we’ve launched several ways to help protect people from having to experience abuse in the first place, including our Hidden Words feature which filters offensive comments and DMs.
“We recently started turning this on by default for people with creator accounts. No one thing will fix this overnight, but we’ll continue to work to help protect our community from abuse.”
CNN reached out to Twitter for comment but has yet to receive a response.
With players still being targeted by hateful comments, Wissa suggests there should be more collective acts of resistance, such as teams walking off the pitch.
In 2020, a Champions League match between Paris Saint-Germain and Istanbul Basaksehir was suspended after both sets of players decided to walk off the pitch in protest against an alleged racist comment made by an official.
“When you get at some point, you say enough is enough. You have to be strong, it’s hard, it’s not easy but it’s better when everyone is aware,” Wissa says.
“If it’s only one person themselves, it’s only this guy involved. If everyone is collected, it will be better for everyone.”
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