England Women manager Sarina Wiegman has revealed the Lionesses are working on plans to protect players from social media abuse as the Women’s European Championships grow nearer.
Last week, a report published by FIFA and FIFPRO revealed more than half the players who played in the most recent Euro 2020 and AFCON finals were abused online before, during and after the game.
In both tournaments, most of the abuse originated from the home nation of the players being targeted – with 38 per cent from the UK at Euro 2020 and 19 per cent from Egypt in the AFCON finals.
With England hosting this summer’s tournament, Wiegman announced that discussions have been held over social media abuse within her team, but the Dutch head coach admits she will not force her players to stay off social media.
“We had conversations with the players, we’ve had that [abuse] before,” she told her press conference before England’s pre-tournament friendly with the Netherlands.” The players had that experience with the club teams unfortunately.
“We want to make the best plans to stay away from the abuse and not getting it into your system and also I think things are needed in the [social media] organisations to stay away from the abuse and make sure it doesn’t reach the players.
“I always think we are talking about things about behaviour but players make their own choices, we aren’t going to force them into one thing or another.
“We are just trying to know what can happen, know what the consequences are of the choices we make. If you don’t want to be involved in it and are sure, then it should be ok to get off social media.”
The Lionesses take on the Netherlands, the reigning European champions, at Leeds United’s Elland Road ground on Friday night, in what will be their last match on home soil before they kick off the tournament against Austria on July 6.
Lionesses squad member Rachel Daly added: “We had discussions about abuse and social media a few months ago – how it can be an amazing place but also a tough place.
“We shared some good insights of peoples’ experience. It’s something we spoke about but it’s their personal choice about whether you want to take part in it or not.”
England to be careful on Covid
England suffered a minor coronavirus blow to their squad this week as all-time record goalscorer Ellen White tested positive for the illness, and will miss Friday night’s friendly.
The diagnosis means she is also a doubt for the Lionesses’ final pre-tournament friendly against Switzerland next Thursday.
Wiegman admits the Lionesses do have the option of a standby list should other players test positive before the tournament, but issued a message of calm about the scenario.
“We do have a standby list,” she added. “During the tournament you can’t bring in other players. We’ve had Covid around for more than two years now, the world is open. We know the situation and sometimes players and staff members can get positive. We’re trying to be careful.
“We have a long standby list, but let’s take it step by step. We have one positive now, she’s coming back so you can make a list of 35 [players overall, including the standby players], so let’s hope we don’t have 15 positives!”