Steve Bruce has opened up about the “death threats” that he has received from some Newcastle fans in recent months – revealing how a few have even wished COVID upon him and his family.
Following Tomas Soucek’s controversial red card against Fulham on Saturday, referee Mike Dean revealed that his family has had to endure a tirade of abuse over the last few days, which led to him asking not to officiate any top flight games this weekend.
Now Bruce, who has described his own experience in the past as “personal”, has admitted that our own supporters have often stepped the mark when it comes to criticism.
The gaffer has also called on social media companies to step up and root out the problem that is playing the beautiful game.
Here is what he said ahead of Monday night’s trip to Chelsea:
“Look social media is a really powerful weapon for everybody concerned.
“For me these big companies have got to police it better.
“The abuse that I’ve had…death threats… all this sort of stuff.
“Things like someone saying they hope I die of Covid and all of this. It’s absolutely vile and obscene, it has to be stopped.”
“When I see a referee wanting to come away from it because he made a mistake, people threatening family it’s just absolutely ridiculous.
“And they need to clamp down on it, police it better and stop it.
“There are vulnerable people out there, it’s absolutely vile and we have to stop it.”
Criticism is fair, and an important part of the sport, but abuse should never be condoned, especially for petty issues like making a mistake or managing a side in a bad run of form.
Let’s be honest, some of the abuse towards Bruce has been personal, and at times, bordering on hate speech. I don’t think even the most partisan of #BruceOut supporters could argue against that.
Pick apart his tactical decisions or comments in interviews, but when you regularly see his own son getting a barrage of abuse on Twitter you have to question our fanbase’s moral compass at times.
If Twitter cleared out the stain of faceless accounts that act as a cancer on its platform, it would go a long way to curb the problem that we face in 2021.
How to tackle that issue is another story, in a different article, for a different website and far behind the remit of NUFC Blog, but next time we criticise somebody in football online, let’s just keep it to the football, eh lads and lasses?