Arsenal star Bernd Leno speaks out on social media abuse after sickening comment while at Bayer Leverkusen

Bernd Leno looks on during Arsenal's Premier League clash with Leeds United
Arsenal and Germany goalkeeper Bernd Leno says he ignores social media comments (Picture: Getty)

Arsenal ace Bernd Leno has revealed how he decided to stop reading comments on social media after being told ‘do it like Robert Enke’, the former Germany goalkeeper who took his own life in 2009.

The FA has vowed to work with the government and social media companies to crack down on online abuse aimed at footballers, with Axel Tuanzebe, Anthony Martial, Marcus Rashford, Antonio Rudiger, Lauren James, Granit Xhaka and Leno just some of those targeted this season.

However, Twitter and Facebook have informed Premier League clubs that they have no plans to end anonymity for online users on their platforms which has stunned those on the receiving end of such vile abuse, with players, managers and pundits voicing their anger and frustration.

David Luiz, Bernd Leno and Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang look on ahead of Arsenal's clash with Leeds
Leno is no stranger to online abuse (Picture: Getty)

Social media abuse is by no means a new phenomenon in the game and Leno told Sky Sports about the sickening comment he received during his Bayer Leverkusen days which made him realise he was ‘wasting time’ taking any notice of individuals spreading bile.

‘Of course I have a lot of experience with that, here and also in Germany,’ he explained.

‘There was one thing that kept in my mind, it was crazy. I had a very bad game and then one guy on social media said to me “do it like Enke”.

‘Since I read this I realise that there are so many stupid people on social media. That is the reason I don’t read it even when everything is good. I don’t need that, it doesn’t make me better, it is wasting time.

‘There are so many fake people that hide behind their computers to make you feel bad. Many times with racism, abuse to families, I don’t like it, I don’t read it. It affects your life, what is the point?’

Data science company Signify revealed this week that they found 16 examples of racist abuse were directed at Arsenal and Switzerland midfielder Xhaka in December 2020.

Many came from those claiming to be ‘Arsenal season-ticket holders’ and the north London club have vowed to take the ‘strongest possible action’ to tackle such abuse.

‘We all need to work together to drive online abuse out of our game and off our social networks,’ an Arsenal spokesperson told Sky Sports.

‘The effect on individuals can be very deep and we work closely with our players and staff to help them deal with the impact. This includes support from sports psychologists and our social media team.

‘As a club, one of the biggest challenges we face is identifying the perpetrators and linking them directly to our season ticket or membership databases.

‘When we do have that information, we take the strongest possible action. This includes reporting to the police and membership bans from our club.

‘Ultimately we all have to work together to stop the abuse and we fully support the Premier League’s recent statement calling on social media platforms to take more action to prevent abuse appearing online, including requiring all users to be subject to a verification process.’

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