Southgate urges players to consider joining Henry in quitting social media

The England manager supports Thierry Henry’s decision but says he wouldn’t stop his players from using social media during the upcoming European Championship.

Gareth Southgate gestures during the World Cup qualifying contest between England and San Marino in London on Thursday.   -  AP

England coach Gareth Southgate said players should consider joining former France international Thierry Henry in quitting social media to avoid being affected by negative comments and online abuse.

Henry, 43, deleted his social media accounts this week to protest against the platforms for not taking action against anonymous account holders who are guilty of racism and bullying online. Southgate supported Henry's decision but said he would not stop his England players from using those platforms during the European Championship in June.

“I think it's something for all players, and all high-profile people who may receive that kind of negative attention, to think about,” Southgate said.

“It's not just high-profiled people, there'll be young kids who are getting bullied online. It's something for everyone to think about: do you want to put yourself in that situation?

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“If you spoke to every manager in the country, one of their biggest concerns would be that the players go in the dressing room and are scrolling through their phones and it's a vulnerable moment for people if they've just played a game. They're tired and fatigued. What voices are they listening to?”

Southgate said he quit social media in 2013 when he became the England Under-21 manager.

“When I'm in camp, I try to switch off from all the external media, which is not great for keeping up with what's going on in the world,” he added. “But the world is a happier place if I'm not getting that negativity.”

Last month English football's governing bodies said that Twitter, Facebook and Instagram were “havens for abuse” and urged the companies to tackle the problem in the wake of racist messages aimed at players.

Instagram has announced a series of measures to tackle online abuse, while Twitter, who took action on more than 700 cases of “abuse and hateful conduct” related to football in Britain in 2019, promised to continue its efforts to curb the problem.