Footballer, 22, quits because of online abuse

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Former Melbourne Victory midfielder Josh Hope has decided to step away from professional football at the age of 22 because anxiety caused in large part by online abuse from fans had stopped him enjoying the game.

Hope, who was released at the end of last season after four years at Victory, said in an Instagram post on Tuesday he had decided to “call it in, for now” rather than pursue a move to another A-League club.

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“It’s a constant battle with people who are supposedly meant to be supporting you,” he wrote. “Some of the things I would see not only regarding myself but others was nothing less than abuse. And I’m not talking football related!

“When it gets personal, to the colour of their skin, to how they talk, to a haircut … I don’t want to be a part of it.”

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Well I never thought I’d be typing this one up but here we are. Some 4 years it’s been, the life of a professional sportsman. Geez its been good, the people you meet and the memories I’ve made, I won’t ever forget. Football has been such a big part of my life ever since I can remember. But it’s time for me to call it in, for now….it isn’t all smooth sailing and I just wonna put my experiences out there so that if anyone ever feels like they are the only one! Ya not! The anxiety that comes with this shit is crazy, I never thought it would get to the point it did. I kept pretty quiet about it for a long time but I started to see it creep into my day to day life. And at the end of the day it made me not enjoy my football.. at all. Critics come with all sports and only the strong survive, (so they say) but some of the shit is relentless. 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 was nothing less than abuse. And I’m not talking Football related! Ofcourse there’s going to be clueless people saying the first thing that pops into their head. But when it gets personal, to the colour of their skin, to how they talk, to a haircut. I get it, it’s a cruel world but geez if that’s how it’s going to be I don’t want to be a part of it. Without a doubt this is the hardest decision I’ve ever made but I hope at the end of it I’m going to come back stronger. Mind and body. And be the player i know i am before this shit took over. In the mean time, I am so keen to focus on myself and spend some time home with family & friends! And ofcourse this cutie. This isn’t the end… we only just getting started mf’s! Remember it’s ok to not be ok, no matter who you are ❤️ #speakupstaychatty

A post shared by Hopey (@josh_hope76) on

Hope, a former captain of the Australia under-17s side and also an U20 international, said the criticism had been “relentless” and forced him to give up football.

“The anxiety that comes with this … is crazy, I never thought it would get to the point it did,” he wrote.

“I kept pretty quiet about it for a long time but I started to see it creep into my day to day life. And at the end of the day it made me not enjoy my football.. at all.”

Hope said walking away from the professional game was the hardest decision he had ever made but that he hoped to return “stronger” one day.

His agent John Grimaud posted a video of Hope’s highlights from the 2020 season on Twitter.

“Sad when a talented client feels he has to walk away from the game we love mainly to his experiences with online abuse,” he wrote.

“Some will say toughen up, which is easy when they’ve never had to deal with the pressure of being a pro.”

Manchester City forward Raheem Sterling said in October that social media companies needed to do more to combat abuse after a study revealed widespread racist abuse of English professionals online.