‘So difficult’ – Jordan Henderson takes on fan behaviour that’s hurting young players

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Jordan Henderson touched on the negative impact of social media in some depth in a wide-ranging conversation with Jake Humphrey and Damian Hughes.

The England international bemoaned the effect, in particular, some comments from ‘fans or the outside world’ had on young players.

“There are a lot of positives on social media, as we all know, but I think it can have a negative impact on players for sure,” the Reds skipper told the High Performance podcast (via YouTube).

“When there’s a loss of form or confidence or whatever it is and there’s people piling in on top of that, which might be tweets or comments on Instagram, whatever it may be.

“It’s easy to say ‘just don’t go on social media, delete it’, but somehow it always seems to find you.

“As a player, especially at the top level, I would say somehow whether it’s your friends saying ‘have you seen this, why are they saying this?’ trying to protect you but it’s coming at you that way.

“Or maybe in the news or when you’re doing interviews and you’re getting asked questions – it’ll always find a way so you know what’s being said, whether that’s the fans or the outside world, and if it’s a tough period or time, it’s so difficult for players, especially young players, to deal with.

“But unfortuantely, that’s come – a lot of people say that’s part and parcel with football, a lot of footballers get well-paid and it comes with the territory. But I suppose when you’re a young kid, you don’t think about money or you don’t think about being a superstar or people looking up to you. You think about playing football.

“As a kid you just want to be a footballer because you love playing football and you look up to the people playing at that time.”

There’s no question that the introduction of such platforms has completely changed the landscape of how footballers interact with fans and commentators off the pitch.

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The amount of emotional investment supporters pour into the sport mean that entirely negative-free outbursts can’t always be avoided.

That being said, being conscious of how our internal monologue will affect players – ESPECIALLY those susceptible to harsh criticism – has to be considered by those who use platforms like Twitter.

It’s all well and good advising players to desert the platforms in question but it’s advice that fails to target the root of the problem, which are the trolls themselves.

We’ve repeatedly called for improved safety measures and controls on social media in the past and it remains imperative as ever that abusive comments can be clearly traced to a genuine individual who can’t be allowed to benefit from a faceless, nameless profile.

Put simply: the responsibility shouldn’t be on players to have a stiff upper lip and take the abuse, but on social media users to not improperly take advantage of their right to anonymity.

You can catch the clip below, courtesy of the High Performance podcast:

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