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A-league professional footballer quits after receiving ‘relentless’ abuse

Australian A-league footballer, Josh Hope, has walked away from the sport following the 'relentless' abuse received online.

At the age of 22, Josh Hope, previously of Melbourne Victory, has walked away from professional football due to the ‘relentless’ online abuse that he has been receiving. Hope highlighted the current problem that players face and the fact it is not getting any better.

What is described in the modern era as something that is ‘normalised’, targeting abuse of players on social media is a massive talking point and something that needs to be addressed by governing bodies in sport. The talented youngster, who has made 41 appearances for Melbourne Victory since 2016, is now a sad statistic demonstrating the way in which professional athletes are treated online.

After taking to Instagram, Hope stated, “it’s time for me to call it in, for now” after he revealed he suffered from serious anxiety due to the torrent of abuse he was receiving. It has brought into question how authorities need to do more to assist players off the pitch.

It is often forgotten that behind the smokescreen of being a professional footballer, players are first and foremost human beings who should not have to suffer what those in other industries would simply not tolerate and should not lead to somebody giving up their career for.

Hope went on to say, “I was so over being treated like just a ‘player’. We aren’t just someone you see on the TV screen; we are people no different to anyone else. It didn’t just stop after the final whistle, it’s a constant battle with people who are supposedly meant to be supporting you. Some of the things I would see not only regarding myself, but others were nothing less than abuse.”

The now ex-professional has seen a wave of support come in following the announcement, and rightly so. The real question that many people will be asking now is; has that support come too late?

This has also come at a high cost for the game itself; losing a very talented, bright, promising young footballer.

Author: Lewis Cockburn