Is Arsenal Football Club being targeted through cyberbullying?



Bullying: can be regarded in a number of ways and forms. For me, bullying is “the use of force, or coercion, or abuse, in order to to aggressively dominate and intimidate an individual or group of individuals”.

I would like to concentrate on the notion of cyberbullying. Cyberbullying is the use of technology to harass, threaten, embarrass, or target another individual or group of individuals.

For many people the notion of bullying and especially cyberbullying is seen to apply more commonly to school and college students rather than to the work related adult population. Bullying ranges from one-on-one, individual bullying through to group bullying, (called ‘mobbing‘), in which the bully may have one or more “associates” who are willing to assist the primary bully in their bullying activities.

Cyberbullying includes bullying by use of email, instant messaging, social media websites (such as Facebook, Twitter), text messages, and cell phones. The behavior is often repeated and habitual.  Cyberbullying is the activity of repeated, aggressive behavior intended to hurt another individual, physically, mentally, or emotionally through the use of technology.   It occurs when a person or persons is/are “exposed, repeatedly and over time, to negative actions on the part of one or more other persons through the medium of technology, as defined above.”, and that negative actions occur “when a person intentionally inflicts injury or discomfort upon another person(s), through words or in other ways”.

So, what has this to do with football punditry and Arsenal Football Club? Well, consider the following comments from a well known football commentator and pundit employed by SKY TV,

“They are a malignant influence who will contaminate the training ground and may leave a negative legacy for the generation which follows.. The likes of Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang and Willian have underperformed and they are a negative influence on the team.”

How will they contaminate the training force? How are they a malignant force? How and why are they a negative influence on the team?

These comments are not lone comments. The person making these comments has recently lambasted these two players by name, through his position on Sky tv and social media. Where is his evidence for making such comments? Why make them? Has he had any discussion or communication with Arsenal FC? Or with Mr Arteta? Or indeed with the players themselves?

Sam Otoway writing in the Express quotes the Sun newspaper “Arsenal players think Arteta is too trigger-happy, taking big names out of the firing line after each and every setback. Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang, as an example, was axed for the draw with Slavia Prague having produced a woeful display in their 3-0 home defeat to Liverpool in the Premier League.  He continued “Unless Aubameyang constantly steps up as he did when creating Nicolas Pepe’s goal on Thursday night, Arteta has the same problem as he faced with Ozil last summer, with a well-paid under performer absorbing massive wages.”

Where is his evidence for writing this, other than quoting from the Sun newspaper? What was Arteta’s problem with Ozil? How does he know that some players are unhappy with Arteta? Yet another computer journalist villifying a specific player with no direct evidence to support his statements.

Jeremy Cross writing in the Star includes the following comments

“The Gunners, once top dogs of English football, are in 10th place in the table, level with Leeds and closer to the relegation zone in terms of points than the top. They have not kept a clean sheet in their last 14 games in all competitions and are without a win since the middle of last month.

“Little wonder when you have a talisman like Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang. Having won the Gunners the F A Cup  last season, the Gabon international used it as a platform to screw a new £55m deal out of club bosses at the age of 31, before vowing to become a “legend”.

“But instead of emulating the likes of Ian Wright and Thierry Henry, Aubameyang has become a legend in his own lunchtime. He’s scored three goals in his last 10 games, become a passenger in the team and is someone who now personifies all that is wrong with the attitude and culture of the club. He might as well urinate on the famous badge and have done with it.”

Again, “to screw a new £55m deal? A person who personifies all that is wrong with the attitude and culture of the club? Only good for urinating on the club?” Where has this come from? Has he met and spoken to Mr Aubameyang? Has he spoken about Mr Aubameyang with Arsenal FC? I think not!

Such personal criticism about the said two persons from pundits and so-called journalists has continued for a number of weeks in a number of Daily Newspapers as well as on tv, notably from the Sky presenters. Yet another Sky presenter has suggested that “a mini mafia exists inside the players dressing room, and this group is undermining the work of Mr Arteta.”

Where is the evidence that enables such language to be used publicly by this commentator? Why report in this fashion? Who has he spoken to and why? Where is his evidence?

In the past it has been Granit Xhaka who has been highlighted and lambasted by pundits and Arsenal bloggers alike. Then Mezut Ozil and Matteu Guendouzi. The public verbal abuse coming from such so-called Arsenal fans and bloggers on various web sites has been continuous and quite frankly horrific!  Xhaka, Bellerin, Elneny, Lacazette to name just a few, have come in for vile abuse, not just criticism, concerning their ability to do their jobs effectively. Why is it necessary to try and publicly humiliate such players AND coaches/managers alike? For me this stinks of cyberbullying tactics?

The example of Mr Wenger is a case in hand. Cyberbullying occurring like nothing seen before at Arsenal and ending with some people actually paying to fly abusive messages on banners over football pitches calling for his sacking! This may well be seen as an effective means of protest and criticism by some as he was eventually replaced by the owner. But without any evidence attached other than “Wenger out”, I see it as bullying of the most vile type.

Whilst I am citing the use of public cyberbullying, I am not excluding examples of the ways that individual players have received personal abusive electronic messages.  Now for some players the abuse has involved further racist overtones. None of this should be allowed! Yet, little has been done to stop the public abuse through the national media domains, nor by the social media platforms themselves. Why not? Are such comments seen merely as clickbait in order to attract more means of advertising and thus profit? (Oh dear, not another conspiracy theory!)

Cyberbullying is typically on going and not isolated behaviour. Common ways that people try to respond, are to try to ignore it, to confront the bullies head on or to turn to the National media organisation themselves to try to address it. Ignoring it often does nothing to stop the bullying continuing, and it can become worse over time.

National media organisations (newspaper, tv stations, radio stations) and Social media platforms (Twitter, Facebook, Instagram etc) could and should play an important role, especially the organisation owners, and their CEO’s and senior managers including supervisors, or human-resources staff in the workplace, because such organisations can be influential in recognising and stopping bullying behaviour, and can  create an environment where it doesn’t continue.

In many situations however the people acting as authority figures are untrained and unqualified, do not know how to respond, and can even make the situation worse. In some cases the authority figures in and from such organisations even support the people doing the bullying, facilitating it and hence facilitating continued isolation  of the target. Again, one has to ask, “For such an organisation – Why is this happening?”

I acknowledge that a bullying culture can develop in any context in which humans interact with each other.  For me, the main platform for bullying in contemporary culture seems to be national media organisations and social media websites. Do such organisations and platforms not have a responsibility to stop such behaviour?

Perhaps in expressing my concern and opinion, I am overreacting and there is no evidence of bullying, and especially cyberbullying. Arsenal and its associated workforce has been attacked verbally and abusively throughout its history as evidenced by the reports of Tony Attwood and UA contributors

I may become frustrated and disappointed that my team is no longer competing at a level of consistency that allows it to challenge for the highest honours in professional football in England. I have had these frustrations and disappointments over sixty five years, but within this time frame I have also had many moments of excitement and ecstasy when honours have been won. I still look forward to more feelings of excitement and ecstasy for the future, especially if and when my team does challenge at the highest levels again, hopefully without the need for certain individual people and associated organisations using bully tactics seen as a viable expression of criticism.

Gaslighting: how refereeing in the Premier League is manipulated, and why the media never speak about it.

(Footnote: the first ever mention of gaslighting in connection with football appeared in the media – six weeks after the launch of the above series on Untold)



6 Replies to “Is Arsenal Football Club being targeted through cyberbullying?”

  1. AKH

    I think you are right and the fact it has been allowed to go on for so long is disappointing, but the problem is how do you tackle it?

    For years Adrian Durham on the disgraceful Talksport had a daily anti Arsenal item. I haven’t listened to 1 second of Talksport for at least 5 years so I have no idea if he still does it, but whether he does or doesn’t I doubt very much that either he, or the show in general, have changed their endless anti Arsenal agenda.

    The reason I mentioned Durham is because I posed the question back in the day “How are they allowed to effectively slander 1 club in isolation, on not just a daily basis, but an almost hourly basis” ?

    Would a consumer show be allowed to single out 1 company and criticise it EVERY SINGLE day, almost always without any evidence and just done on opinion?

    Try doing it to Coca Cola, Sainsbury’s, Starbucks etc. and see how far you get before a solicitors letter drops through the door.

    Basically it is an attempt to undermine our football club at every level.

    ‘Bullying’ is one way of describing it, but I would more liken it to ‘Slandering’.

  2. I get it dude its been going on for a long time, pundits are always slightly negative during wins too, its the way our newer fans have taken the bait that saddens me ….AFTV my ass, we are losing our way, we used to be happy with putting up a challenge to Man U didnt have to win but that thought that WE could was dream stuff …and when we did …magic.
    Nowadays its he had a poor 45 he’s clearly not good enough … how much time do we waste watching…. we’ve gone from an optimistic club to a pessimistic one all because of that oh so poor punditry and our own naivety and being let down by past judas players like Faberagas or van persie or.. you know the list
    We need to shift away from this before it becomes a permanent state

  3. Talksport obviously has a anti arsenal agenda knocking ever achievement arsenal have had this constant knocking is contaious with more and more people joining in only Sunday after Beating Sheffield United it was dismissed as it only Sheffield
    Of course this is bullying and why we as a club have not perused a case against Durham it beyond me it would surely stop a lot of the utter rubbish been spoken by so called experts

  4. @ Nitram
    I did read that Talksport and Durham knew that if they ran any aspect of Arsenal down , they would get a reaction from the so called fan base with the telephones lines going crazy . They tried the same trick with other teams but never got the same reaction from their supporters , I’m not condoning this behaviour of a radio station because this daily drip drip effect of saying how bad your team is will hit home at some supporters
    What does this say about our supporters who would ring in to debate a subject such as Wenger was never a great manager because he never won the Champions League , you would have callers going round in circles to prove Durham wrong not a winner-able argument but Durham’s opinion which was to wind-up as many Arsenal supporters as possible .
    Like you I haven’t listened to Talksport for years , and when Arsene Wenger left Arsenal it was one less subject to divide the supporters

  5. Steve Vallins

    I agree a lot of it we bring on ourselves thanks to a way too big a minority of fans who buy into this negative narrative as well as a passive, or perhaps impotent club that is un willing, or perhaps unable to act.

    Our fans and the club are one thing, but worse is the way so many of our ex players not only join in with this narrative, but actively propagate it with such enthusiasm.

    Wright, Merson, Robson, Adams, Petite, Keown, Smith, the list goes on, all ready willing and able to slag us off at the drop of a hat.

    Yes of course every club has an ex player who pops up now and again to criticise their old club, but none have the amount we have, doing it as often as ours do, and certainly not with the vitriol spewed out by some of ours. Some of them seem to actually dislike the club and seem to want to do it harm.

    And all of this feeds in to the media narrative, which feeds into the fan base, which feeds back in to the media.

    It’s self perpetuating and until our club, or our fans, or heaven forbid our ex players, are prepared to break this cycle by saying enough is enough, I see no end to it.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *