Players discuss online abuse with UK government ministers

·2-min read

LONDON (Reuters) - Top English soccer players including Liverpool captain Jordan Henderson and former international Karen Carney discussed online abuse and discrimination with government ministers on Monday.

The online round table with Culture Secretary Oliver Dowden and Sports Minister Nigel Huddleston was part of a series of 'Future of Football' discussions.

The government is planning a fan-led review of soccer governance and new laws to hold to account social media companies for online harm. The Bill is due before Parliament this year.

"To hear players talk about the level of abuse they have faced was humbling," Dowden said in a statement.

"Their input today has strengthened my resolve to bring in new laws to ensure there is much greater accountability from the social media platforms for dealing with such problems."

Carney this month deleted her Twitter account after her remarks about Leeds United, while working as a television pundit, were ridiculed by the Premier League club's official account and led to a torrent of online abuse.

Chelsea forward Bethany England said at the time that Carney had been subjected to "cyber bullying" and "mass online abuse for doing her job and having her opinion".

Others attending the roundtable included Watford captain Troy Deeney, former West Ham United player Anton Ferdinand and Aston Villa's Tyrone Mings.

England defender Mings was subjected to racist abuse during a 2019 Euro 2020 qualifier in Bulgaria when the side's Black players were subjected to monkey chants from the crowd.

Henderson, who also played in that match, has spoken out strongly against racism and discrimination.

Ferdinand's experiences, and particularly a 2011 race row with former England captain John Terry, were featured in a recent BBC documentary 'Football, Racism and Me.'

"The meeting was very important and I’m pleased that those with power and authority to enact change realise the seriousness of the abuse towards players," said Henderson.

(Reporting by Alan Baldwin, editing by Ken Ferris)