Chelsea and Wales defender Ethan Ampadu says he now ignores any messages from people he does not know on social media because he is aware abuse could be waiting for him.
The 20-year-old, who spent the 2020/21 season on loan at Sheffield United, is part of BT’s Hope United along with the likes of Marcus Rashford, Gareth Bale and Andy Robertson – a campaign to raise awareness, drive more support for change and educate the nation on how to use social media better.
The need for change again came into focus this week after Rashford said he had received “at least 70 racial slurs” following Manchester United’s Europa League final defeat in Gdansk.
Ampadu admits he no longer reads any messages after a game having previously been affected by online abuse.
“It doesn’t feel nice. I am a human being, no one likes to hear negative things being said about themselves,” he told the PA news agency.
“Everyone deals with it in a different way, it affects people in a different ways, but no one likes to read these messages and truly you shouldn’t have to.
“Luckily my parents have supported me and I can speak to them about it. I try to tend not to read them. That is one way to deal with them, anyone you don’t know don’t open their messages because you know what it’s going to be. Don’t put yourself in that situation.
“For me, if I am not going to go to these people with my problems why am I going to listen to their inputs.
“I used to look through messages and see what people said about me but the more games you play you learn different ways and now I don’t look at any messages, whether it is good or bad.
“Just don’t read them and put yourself in that situation because it is going to affect you, no matter how much you think it’s not.”
Ampadu praised Rashford’s reaction to his abuse this week, where he exposed one of the people who abused him had an open profile showing him to be a maths teacher.
He added: “That is another way to stop it, everyone is happy to say these messages but when people find out it’s them, they are not going to like it. The more that this is made aware, the better it is going to be.
“It’s a campaign to tackle what is going on in social media these days. As social media is growing, unfortunately the amount of abuse people are receiving is also growing and people have become more aware of it.
“The Hope United campaign is to tackle that and make social media a better environment. It is to make sure everyone is aware that it is happening, to make sure the victims feel like they are not alone. It is to teach people how to become better on social media.
“There are things that you just can’t say now that are being said.”
:: BT’s Hope United will rally the UK to tackle online abuse as part BT’s commitment to digitally upskill the nation. To find out more about how you can play your part, watch BT’s Tech Tips at bt.com/hopeunited. Together we can beat online hate