Australian soccer player steps away from sport, citing online abuse as main reason

Getty Images A 22-year-old Australian soccer player says he’s stepping away from the sport because of the online abuse he has suffered during his playing career. Josh Hope was a midfielder for Melbourne Victory of Australia’s top flight, a role he’d had for the last four years. He was released […]

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A 22-year-old Australian soccer player says he’s stepping away from the sport because of the online abuse he has suffered during his playing career. Josh Hope was a midfielder for Melbourne Victory of Australia’s top flight, a role he’d had for the last four years. He was released from Melbourne at the end of last season and announced on Instagram that he was going to “call it in, for now” with regards to his career rather than move to another club in the A-League.

He cited the anxiety he developed as a result of the online abuse as his main reason:

View this post on Instagram

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! You aren’t alone!! 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

The former Victory player once served as captain of the Australia under-17s side and was also a member of the U20 team. A quick glance at the original Instagram post shows an outpouring of support from many in the community for his decision — one he hopes will make him return to the game “stronger” than before.

“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.”

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