Lioness England stars suffering unrepeatable sexist abuse online

Lioness England stars suffering unrepeatable sexist abuse online

08/08/2022

They're on top of the world having just conquered Euro 2022, defeating Germany in nail biting extra time and taking home the trophy. But the England Women's Football team lionesses Lucy Bronze, Keira Walsh and Ellen White reveal exclusively to OK! that behind the jubilation of their victory lies years of shocking sexist abuse.

Lucy Bronze, who is due to sign for Barcelona, says that some of the messages she receives online are unrepeatable. "The height of it I wouldn't even repeat it to my own mum, then the lower end of it is typical kitchen banter," she says.

Keira White, who plays for Manchester City agrees: "I wouldn't even want to repeat it. I don't want to give a voice to all of the sexiest comments. I think that's what they want to achieve."

And as for how they deal with the nasty comments Lucy says that she reports every single episode of abuse. "I report everything. I think it’s so important."

She also says that though blocking the trolls helps in the short term she doesn't feel it deals with the problem and worries the trolls may then just target somebody else. She says: "Blocking it helps you personally, but sometimes I think they may then target someone else, so I feel a responsibility to report any hateful comments and make sure something is done about it. If we report it we put the responsibility on the social media platforms."

Keira also reveals that the team, though triumphant, were even being targeted during the competition. "There was still some [abuse] at the tournament. But we’re European champions and no one can take that away from us," she says with a smile.

All three say that they have experienced sexist attitudes towards women in the game from childhood. Ellen – who also plays for Manchester City – explains that there was no girls' football available to her. "I played on the boys' football team at school and then in a local boys' team. When I was nine I was told I wasn't allowed to play with the boys anymore."

At the same time as this huge setback, Ellen received a life line when she was invited to play at the Arsenal Centre of Excellence. "It was a shame but I feel like it's changing," she says. "I've recently gone back to my primary school and there were loads of girls playing football."

Lucy also reveals that she was banned from playing with boys when she reached the age of 12 but she says that her supportive parents stepped in and ensured she could still play.

She says: "[They] found a girls’ team for me but it was an hour and a half there and back. It was nice to play with girls but I would have loved to have stayed in that boys’ team as they were my mates. I just wanted to play football. That was difficult to deal with at a young age. But things are slowly changing so girls won’t have that experience and they won’t be told you can’t play with the boys, and boys and girls can just do what they want."

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