Monday 26 September 2016

'I would love to meet these faceless keyboard warriors' - GAA chief slams cyber attacks

Published 26/05/2016 | 02:30

Dublin and Wexford in action last weekend
Dublin and Wexford in action last weekend

Wexford county chairman Diarmuid Devereux has warned that the increasingly nasty comments posted about inter-county players and managers on social media is becoming a major problem in the GAA.

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He fears that it could have a detrimental impact on young players' mental wellbeing, in particular, at a time when they are already facing lots of other pressures.

"It's outrageous. Losing a game doesn't define you as a person but we seem to have reached a stage where unnamed people feel entitled to abuse and sneer at anybody," he said.

"They have the gall to accuse players of being cowards and then won't even put their names to it. What kind of twisted mentality is that?

"No player or manager should have to put up with that, but it's particularly hard on younger players and their families."

Devereux was disgusted with some of the remarks posted about the Wexford hurlers after last Saturday's defeat by Dublin and was also unhappy with comments from the stands during the game.

Diarmuid Devereux was disgusted with some of the remarks posted about the Wexford hurlers after last Saturday’s defeat by Dublin: Matt Browne / SPORTSFILE
Diarmuid Devereux was disgusted with some of the remarks posted about the Wexford hurlers after last Saturday’s defeat by Dublin: Matt Browne / SPORTSFILE

"We have a lot of young players on our team, lads who are doing their very best for Wexford. I have no doubt their day will come but in the meantime they shouldn't have to put up with vicious stuff on social media, or indeed from the stands for that matter," he said.

Social media attacks are rampant across all sports but it's usually confined to the higher end of the scale in rugby and soccer. Consequently, a much smaller number are targeted than in GAA, where all county players are open to personal onslaughts.

Devereux believes it's being fuelled by a growing sense of elitism and a win-at-all costs mentality that leaves beaten teams fair game for insult.

"Losing a game doesn't make you a loser. How dare someone call a player a coward? I would love to meet the faceless keyboard warriors who had a go at the Wexford players this week, but of course you never get a chance because they hide between anonymity. They are the real cowards," he said.

He accepts that it's very difficult to deal with social media bullying but believes it cannot be ignored either.

"It's a player welfare issue we have to keep to the forefront because unfortunately the problem is growing all the time," he said.

Irish Independent

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