Willian reflects on the effect of online abuse

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Underwhelming on the pitch since he signed in the summer, Willian’s social media channels have been a lightning rod for fans frustrated by his and Arsenal’s recent failings on the pitch.

While the Brazilian says he can accept criticism about his performances, he wants it known that he won’t tolerate racism or vile messages directed at his family and has backed the Gunners #StopOnlineAbuse campaign.

Launching the initiative last week, the club called on supporters to play their part in identifying, condemning and highlighting such posts when they are shared on social media.

Facing the media ahead of Thursday’s Europa League quarter-final first leg with Slavia Prague, the 31-year-old touched on the impact the abuse has had on him this season.

“I was in that situation one month ago,” he said. “It was very difficult for me because I have a lot of things on my phone and I saw a lot of horrible words against my family for example. After that, I said to myself, ‘Enough is enough, I have to try something’ – to take action against racism and online abuse. I am proud because the club is doing that, they are helping us a lot and I will never stop my fight against racism.”

“It’s really, really affected me when they say about my family,” he added. “As I’ve said before, if they want to criticise me, that’s no problem, I will always accept that. But when they come to attack you and your family with bad words that I cannot say here, that hurts. That’s really affected me and it’s a big problem.

“I feel that straight away I want to delete my social media accounts. I have seen some people [do that] because of the racism and the abuse and straight away I want to do that, but when you think and take a few minutes and relax a little bit more… but the first action is to delete straight away!”

Asked if he was scared to look at his phone after certain matches, he admitted it had been the case.

“Sometimes yes, to be honest, because we are human. I want to understand who these people are and who they think they are to come to speak like that with us. We are professional and we do the best to help the team on the pitch.

“We want to win and we always want to win. We never want to lose, but we have our bad days and sometimes we’re not feeling good and having problems like everyone has.

“We have personal problems and families have a lot of problems as well, so sometimes you’re not in a good day, you have a bad game and they come and they say these kind of words that hurt you. That’s why we want to stop it. Enough is enough.”

When it comes to countering racism in football, it would certainly help if football’s governing bodies made more of an effort to punish supporters and players found guilty of such behaviour.

Uefa announced yesterday that Slavia Prague’s Ondrej Kudela, who was already injured, has been ruled out of tomorrow’s match at the Emirates due to a provisional one-game ban while they investigate allegations he racially abused Rangers’ Glen Kamara.

The incident during the Europa League last-32 tie garnered headlines across the world but the punishment, which could still be extended, has been dismissed by Kamara’s lawyer as “tokenism.”

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PeteyB

I do hope uefa come down hard on Kudela. There’s a lot of talk with no action

Reality check

As wrong as it is, what really defies logic is all these footballers who have been racially abusive, don’t know the reason behind bending the knee before every game. Or is it just defiance on their part?

Cowadunga

Nice read, and I have to say people really need to consider their words, whether it’s online or anywhere else. There are definitely real racists out there who consider themselves Arsenal fans, but there are also a lot of fans out there who say things they don’t realize are racist or abusive.

A M

Many fans need to know where the line between criticism and abuse ends. Not just us Gooners, it is with other clubs as well. And hope they take action against Kudela and possibly the Cadiz defender who allegedly abused a Valencia defender racially
#StopOnlineAbuse
in fact stop any kind of abuse

Salibaba and the Forty Thieves

As one of Willian’s fiercest critics, I sometimes wonder if my criticism of his performances (from people like me) is contributing to the continuous abuse (racist or otherwise) he is receiving from some Arsenal fans. Just thinking about it, arguably the Arsenal players (Pepe, Xhaka, Auba, Willian, Mustafi before he left) criticized the most this season by us have been subject to the brunt of the online abuse. Granted, abusers/xenophobes/psychopaths have those opinions anyway but it’s possible our genuine criticisms of these players are being used as an opportunity for these guys to lash. Do you agree or disagree? Thumbs… Read more »

Ray Middleton

I hear what you are saying however I watched the Liverpool game and apart Gabriel, no one can come out of that game with any plus points but I didn’t then go and rubbish the team online. I can see where frustration happens but I don’t see where an individual can start abusing another person, their family and even send death threats. These people seriously need medical help or give up following sports. As for other fellow athletes abusing one and another, surely if the were threatened with a contract termination because of being racist, that’s a start in the… Read more »

Great point and thanks for responding. I can only hope that all the organisations involved reach a workable solution soon enough. We certainly can’t leave things as they are now.

Ozzie

Ironic that it’s Valencia who are demanding the strictest of sanctions.

I was at the Mestalla stadium the night Patrick Vieira and Kolo Toure were targets for monkey noises. The Valencia officials apparently thought of it as banter not worthy of any complaint so UEFA only gave the club a token fine.

Vieira, who personally raised the complaint, correctly predicted that UEFAs action would be spineless, so they gave him a bigger fine than the one they gave Valencia.

Draw your own conclusions.

Andy

Yes unfortunately it’s all about the appearance of disgust, without ruffling any feathers.

Qwaliteee

Yep, spot on.

SarcasmB0t

I wonder. Every time an underperforming player is justly criticized, they spin it as “social media abuse” (see also Xhaka, Granit). Sure, some people are cunts and some cunts are racists, but invalidating the opinions of the vast majority of Arsenal fans because a few twats said something racist seems like throwing the baby out with the bathwater. Willian has been utterly awful since he’s joined us, he shouldn’t be anywhere near the first team. It is my firm belief that if fans were in the stadium, he’d be relentlessly booed. The fans can’t boo him now, they can only… Read more »

Fezec

I’ll start by saying people have the right to support the club in anyway they see fit (in boundaries of acceptable behaviour). But those who have been licking their lips at the prospect of being able to get back into the stadium so they can boo their least favourite player/the manager/a bad performance can fuck right off as far as I’m concerned. I don’t mean the spontaneous disgruntlement with a bad performance or frustration coming out mid game. I mean those who attend a game specifically looking to vent their toxic, spiteful and misanthropic bile. (Not suggesting for a second… Read more »

SarcasmB0t

To be fair, I don’t think most fans want to boo their own players. The reason they do so is because it makes the higher ups listen. I doubt Willian would have been afforded the opportunities he has been if there’d been fans in the stadium. Arteta might have been sacked, too. Not necessarily saying it would have been the right thing to do, but fans are the lifeblood of the club, they pay for the tickets and the cable packages and they deserve to be heard. Unfortunately, the club is far more likely to respond to 60 000 fans… Read more »

Scott P

Except he literally said that he can handle legitimate criticism of his own performances. People should stick to that and not rope in completely unrelated parties like his family.

Twatsloch

There is something so incredibly cynical about Willian’s three year signing with us and how he’s performed. He can complain about abuse all he wants but I expect he’ll find a lot less sympathy because of that.

djourou's nutmeg

one thing is saying he’s shit and complaining about his performances. it’s a whole different thing than systematically calling him names, making jokes and insulting him and/or his family, especially directly in his social media. even in this blog there’s a trend to speak low of him out of nowhere: an article’s about the emirates’ grass and there’ll surely be a funny guy joking about how willian’s gonna miss the ball on it. even small innocent jokes can be online abuse when they’re systematically pointed at someone. im sure everyone here already knows what bullying is. it was the same… Read more »

djourou's nutmeg

“If he can’t handle the criticism of his performances, however, he can cancel his contract and go”

the world doesn’t work like that buddy. people are entitled to have a job and not to have to endure abuse for their performances. can you imagine if your boss, girlfriend or mother treated you that way? would you be as tough as you expect willian to be?

SarcasmB0t

I don’t make millions of pounds. Willian is a celebrity. He’s chosen that. There’s laws saying celebrities need to accept more criticism than the average person. He’s criticized because he’s on a huge contract and playing like shit (doing his job really poorly). If my job performance fell as far below my pay packet as his has, I might not suffer online abuse, but I also might be fired. And actually, a footballer getting shit on the internet over godawful performances is exactly how the world works. As I’ve said, if he doesn’t like it, he can call Raul’s best… Read more »

djourou's nutmeg

if you perform poorly in your job, you can expect them to cancel your contract or have someone else do your job. not insult you on your facebook page. it doesn’t matter if he earns a billion a month or if he’s doing it for free, he deserves a minimum of respect. it’s not like he wants to play poor or anything. he just wants to do his job without random assholes talking shit about him. i don’t want to think the kind of stuff you support just because you think “that’s how the world works”. smh

SarcasmB0t

But his job is in the entertainment sector. By definition, it includes people talking about him on twitter. Do you expect them to only ever say nice things? (Surely his facebook page is private, if it’s not, he’s a moron.) The “minimum of respect” you refer to means not insulting his family and not using racial slurs. It does not mean that people can’t say he’s played like shit when he has. Or that he isn’t Premier League level anymore when he isn’t. Or that they don’t want him to play for this team because he’s the worst player on… Read more »

Pearson

What did Willian expect? Willian is an idiot. He is a sub optimal performer with the emphasis on “sub”, lazy, indifferent, disrespectful to a worldwide audience.. Next: What was Willian doing on social media after his dreadful shameful performances? Was he expecting intellectual analysis? Sympathy? Is Willian brain dead? Has he never heard about the idiocy and dumb racism on social media? My advice to Willian, start doing your JOB. You are not employed to be with your moron brotherhood of misfits on social media, those who abuse you. I did not make these rules. I do not approve of… Read more »

arseblog

Willian has been terrible.

Willian does not deserve racist abuse and is entitled to use social media regardless of his performance levels.

Those two things are true.

Andy

Entitled? There speaks a millennial!

Almost 30 years ago, Andres Escboar scored an own goal in a World Cup match that Colombia ended up losing. He received a barrage of abuse because of it and he was eventually later gunned down by a disgruntled fan. 70 years ago, Moacir Barbosa conceded a freakish goal in a World-Cup final that Brazil. As the goalkeeper, he was blamed for the and he experienced several incidents of racist abuse for the next 50 years of his life. That football moment even affected his employability as executives didn’t want to risk having to deal with abusive customers. Would you… Read more »

leon

There is no excuse for abuse of any kind to any one.
The complete ineffectiveness (or unwillingness) for social media platforms to manage such abuse makes me wonder why anyone – especially those in the public limelight would want to subject themselves to the risk of being abused.
I know people will say they should be able to use social media to connect with fans without fear of being abused but unfortunately that is not the world we live in.
I would not allow social media to have any role in my life – only bad things come from it..

Cranky Colin

Can someone explain to me the benefits of social media…….. I’m a bit of a Luddite

Biggles

It helps users to identify people showing technophobic leanings.  

Cranky Colin

Love it!!😂😂😂😂

Andy

It makes some people very rich indeed. Pretty much the reason for capitalism.

Ozzie

“After that, I said to myself, ‘Enough is enough, I have to try something’ ”
… So, what was it he tried??
Shut down his social media accounts? Ask the boss to give him a break from first team football? Play a bit better?

MojoWillneny

Social media is a brown toilet for the most part. What’s uplifting and positive about it is consistently undermined by tough-guy anonymity, piss-ant anonymity, racism hurled from cyber-shadows. There’s a large portion of social media that is a safe zone for social misfits.
Willian has been awful for us, a shadow of his Chelsea self, his Brazil self. Maybe he’s also too sensitive to the stuff directed at him from the cyber cesspool. But none of that justifies it. It should stop…but it won’t.

Qwaliteee

Fair play to the lad.

Let’s face it, he’s not produced the goods at all – he’s done nothing to convince me that he should be anywhere near the team sheet, starting or bench, but that’s no excuse whatsoever for vile abuse aimed at him and his family.

I back him all the way for taking a stand against that.