In an online world of football experts and critics, uncensored insults can sometimes take their toll. The response to Christy Grimshaw’s missed shot in the Coppa Italia quarter-finals is one example.
During Sunday’s Coppa Italia action, AC Milan had taken a 1-0 lead away to Sassuolo just before half-time. In the 73rd minute, goal-scorer Valentina Giacinti found herself in the box facing the goalkeeper. She opted to play the ball across to the unmarked Christy Grimshaw.
Upon receiving the ball, the Scottish midfielder’s first time effort went wide of the post while an empty goalmouth sat at her mercy.
Grimshaw immediately stood in shock for what must have seemed like an eternity. In reality, it was just a few seconds.
When she turned to walk away, she pulled the neckline of her jersey up over her face. That night at home, reading some of the comments about her missed shot online, she probably felt like doing the same. That’s when she made the wise decision to take a break from social media.
She made that announcement on Instagram, while deactivating her Twitter account. She seems to have received nothing but support in the comments on her Instagram post. Twitter, on the other hand is where the armchair experts feel entitled to give not only their opinion but also believe that insults are totally acceptable.
Since joining the Italian club in July, Grimshaw has started 10 of their 12 Serie A games so far. She has also scored two goals in that time. Which makes some of the comments posted seem frankly ridiculous.
The midfielder is an almost ever-present asset in a team that has lost only one league game this season. AC Milan are also still very much in the title race. Maybe she doesn’t actually deserve to be sent back to Scotland as one supposed Milan fan suggested?
I’m not going to give any more space to those brave souls sitting at home typing out their insults while a player is on the field giving everything she has for her team.
There will be those who say that this is what happens when someone is in the public eye. It’s also to be expected for a professional sportsperson. They will point to the fact that women footballers are looking for equality and yet seem unwilling to accept the negatives that go along with it.
Now if you’re the type of person who feels that just because someone is earning millions that makes them a fair target for your abuse, then there probably isn’t much that I can say to change your mind.
Maybe people would do well to remember that the football world, like so many other areas of society, is still very much an unequal playing field.
The Italian problem
There is another issue to point out, although it needs a whole separate article to even begin to explore it properly. Women’s football in Italy is still not a professional sport, despite appearances.
The players do not have the same rights as their male counterparts or any other worker for that matter. They are not entitled to the same benefits, pension contributions, maternity leave or typical employee protections against harassment.
One day, hopefully, these footballers will be treated fairly and equally. Now on that day, if you still feel like venting your anger online when mistakes are made, well I guess that’s just the type of person you are.
For now though, maybe stop and think for a second, and at least give these players the respect they deserve.