Newcastle Jets goalkeeper Georgina Worth could not have been more succinct after she received abuse on social media on Sunday. 

“Abusing players is not okay” she said in a tweet highlighting a screen shot of the abhorrent messages she received from an unidentified account.

The Jets custodian bravely took to Twitter and Instagram to call out the abuse she had received following a recent A-League Women match.

Unfortunately, online abuse is an all too familiar reality many footballers face in their professional careers. 

Having a social profile can help professional players elevate and promote their careers, but their presence online unfairly exposes them to online hate. 

And online abuse in football is only increasing, which means its impact on the mental health of players, teams and their loved ones is of concern to the PFA.

After forcing a miraculous save from Argentine goalkeeper Emiliano Martinez in the Socceroos’ Round of 16 tie in the FIFA World Cup, 18-year-old Socceroo Garang Kuol was bombarded with disgusting racist messages online following Australia’s tournament exit.

Kuol was forced to switch off his comments to avoid seeing any further vile abuse.

Incredulously, Garang’s brother Alou was also abused over the weekend, with trolls reacting to news reports linking the VfB Stuggart forward to Manchester United. 

Western Sydney Wanderers’ Kusini Yengi, Western United’s Jamie Young and Melbourne City FC’s Andrew Nabbout all recently shared stories of their negative experiences online.

If there is one positive to emerge from this insidious abuse it is that help is available for players in the A-Leagues, with football bodies and unions working collaboratively to stamp out online abuse.

The PFA and the APL offer players across the A-Leagues complete protection from online abuse through GoBubble, a cutting-edge AI tech solution that help organisations around the globe create kinder, more supportive online communities.

The founder and CEO of GoBubble, Danielle Platten, says their mission is to help give athletes the tools to easily protect them and their families, by their patent-pending Emotion AI pre-emptively preventing abuse.

“The GoBubble service has been made available to all players by A-League and PFA to help shield you from online abuse and to empower you to decide what appears on your social feeds. Sadly, the level of online hate is increasing globally, and we’ve already seen a 300% increase during the FIFA World Cup tournament so far versus the hate during league games.

“Our technology is in place to protect you and your loved ones from online toxicity that could negatively impact your mental health and well-being, and to enable you to focus on the game.” 

The PFA recently completed a ‘roadshow’ of club visits to A-Leagues players to expand on the partnership, with players signing up to the opt-in service.

“We’re really encouraged by the feedback from the players and the initial take up of GoBubble and our aim is to protect every player in the A-Leagues so they do not have to be exposed to any form of abuse,” PFA Player Relations Manager Erin Clout said.

“The service will help professional players to build a more positive online community which naturally will promote better mental wellbeing. We recommend players add this layer of protection to create a safer, kinder, and healthier experience online.”

How to activate GoBubble

GoBubble’s technology amplifies the positive and silences abusive, derogatory, harmful or offensive content on your social channels. All costs have been fully covered for PFA Members, through the partnership between the PFA and A-League.

To activate GoBubble, please contact your PFA Player Development Manager who will provide you with specific details.

Additional Resources

eSafety Commissioner

The PFA has worked closely with the Australian Government’s eSafety Commissioner on extending online safety beyond direct abuse. The eSafety Commissioner can assist with online threats, intimidation, harassment and image-based abuse.

Visit eSafety for more information:

PFA Abuse Reporting Service

The PFA has its own online reporting form for members who wish to report abuse of any form:

PFA Mental Health Referral Network

PFA Members have access to a variety of wellbeing programs and services designed to provide critical support in times of need but also to assist them in dealing with the demands of professional sport both on and off the pitch.

If online abuse has affected you and you wish to access the PFA’s counselling or psychological services please contact your Player Development Manager

In addition, members can contact Lifeline 13 11 14 for crisis support 24 hours a day.