Australia’s football players, coaches and administrators have committed to tackle online abuse – promising to call out perpetrators, ban offenders from matches, strip club memberships and refer incidents to the police.
The A-Leagues, Professional Footballers Australia (PFA) and Football Coaches Australia (FCA) will crack down on the rise in abuse directed at players and coaches, with a reporting platform established for players and a framework developed for elevating matters to authorities.
Earlier this month, the A-Leagues, PFA and Football Australia joined over 20 other major sporting organisations from around Australia in signing the Online Safety Statement of Commitment to actively support the work of the eSafety Commissioner to help keep all Australians – from grassroots to professional athletes, staff and officials – safe online.
With the Isuzu UTE A-League season kicking off tonight and the A-League / Women campaign on December 3, the zero-tolerance approach reaffirms the ongoing commitment from football to stamp out abuse; a message that will be broadcast in stadium at every A-Leagues match through the season.
APL Managing Director Danny Townsend said:
“We see the diversity of our fan base as one of the core assets of our game. In representing this fan base the A-Leagues are unequivocal in the rejection of online abuse and bullying. There is no place in our game for any action which deliberately causes a person embarrassment or harm.
“We welcome the joint initiative with PFA and FCA and are committed to working with our partners to ensure sporting environments are safe, inclusive, welcoming and respectful, and this includes in the online space.”
PFA Co-Chief Executive Beau Busch said:
“Domestically and internationally, we have witnessed the impact online abuse can have on people. The PFA has a zero-tolerance approach to hate, abuse and discrimination, and we will hold those who engage in it accountable.
“Given the scale of the problem, a shared commitment is required to adequately deal with this growing issue, and we welcome the commitment of FCA and the A-Leagues to tackle this problem together.”
FCA President Phil Moss said:
“Football is a passionate game, however, extending this passion to online abuse and vilification is unacceptable and tackling this issue is a priority of FCA.
“Coaches, referees and players are human beings pursuing the sport they love and doing their best in their respective roles in a high-performance environment. I’ve been on the receiving end as a coach hence why I’m so passionate about this campaign.
“A mutual respect and an agreed code of conduct needs to exist between all football stakeholders, including spectators and online ‘critics’.
“As was introduced in the Premier League in 2020, we support a dedicated reporting system being available for players, coaches, referees and their family members who receive serious online abuse.”
The PFA has established a reporting tool for its members to report abuse and discrimination here.