Player security and wellbeing must be prioritised

Jesse Lingard, Manchester United

Following last week’s FA Cup tie between Derby County and Manchester United, Jesse Lingard faced a torrent of verbal and allegedly racial abuse when boarding the team bus. 

This, and other recent incidents, have once again put a focus on the hate, abuse and discrimination that football players incur on an all too frequent basis while carrying out their job.

Jesse Lingard was subjected to a barrage of abuse from a group of fans after Manchester United’s game against Derby last week. Disturbing videos were shared online, demonstrating the level of vitriol that many players are expected to deal with, for simply doing their job.

Having seen these videos, we met with Jesse and the club’s PFA Delegate, Lee Grant, on Monday to discuss the abuse he faced and offer our support.

This is the second incident from the crowd that Jesse has faced this season. During a Manchester derby in December, a Manchester City fan was seen making monkey chants and gestures at both Lingard and Fred.

Through our work on the Enough campaign, we have also seen that Jesse is also often singled out online.

Incidents such as these highlight our previous call for a serious and considered approach to tackling the abuse of players. 

In a week where we have seen Jonathan Leko’s feelings of isolation around his hearing, Eric Dier’s reaction to a Tottenham fan and the level of abuse aimed at Lingard, it is essential that the game considers the psychological consequences of such abuse. 

When players are facing the level of abuse they are currently experiencing, their security and wellbeing must be made a priority.