Soccer

Please stop – Chelsea boss defends Conor Gallagher after social media abuse

Gallagher was abused after failing to high-five a mascot before kick-off when the Blues played Burnley at Stamford Bridge.

Conor Gallagher has received abuse online for failing to high-five a Chelsea mascot
Conor Gallagher Conor Gallagher has received abuse online for failing to high-five a Chelsea mascot (John Walton/PA)

Mauricio Pochettino has defended Conor Gallagher after the midfielder received abuse on social media for failing to high-five a mascot.

Chelsea said in a statement that the “defamatory comments” made towards Gallagher were “completely unacceptable” and that the video had been taken out of context.

The incident occurred in the tunnel immediately ahead of kick-off when the Blues played Burnley at Stamford Bridge on Saturday, with the 24-year-old seemingly not noticing that one of the mascots had held up his hand.

Pochettino rejected any suggestion that the player acted intentionally, and condemned the online reaction to the incident.

“It has upset me so much,” he said. “No one wants to do this with this intention. When you are focusing on playing and starting the game, that sometimes can happen.

“People always try to find things to create a mess. I know Conor. Come on – there’s never that intention. Conor is a great kid and always is caring about everything. I hate how people feel free to abuse on social media.”

It is the second time this season that a Chelsea player has been subjected to abuse on social media, after captain Reece James spoke out earlier this year about unfair criticism he had received when he was ruled out with injury.

Pochettino has spoken out previously about the impact of online attacks against players, and re-emphasised the urgency in ridding the game of the problem.

“Today, abuse of people is so easy,” he said. “Whenever this type of thing happens, we (must not) give too much attention to the type of people that want to create it, to insult and abuse other people. Please stop.

“How is it possible to believe that Conor’s intention is to ignore a mascot? Come on. It makes me very sad.

“Our responsibility is to try to ignore this type of thing. The people that try to create it never help our lives. They don’t deserve attention.

“The problem with social media today is it’s like a compulsory thing if you want to communicate. It measures your value, depending on the followers you have.

“It puts value on you in front of society. That is the problem. We’re seeing too many things like this that are so wrong in society.”

Pochettino also highlighted the example of Barcelona defender Inigo Martinez, who this week was filmed getting out of his car to remonstrate with a fan who had criticised him verbally.

The reaction to Martinez’s handling of the situation has been mixed, with some criticising him for confronting the supporter whilst others have offered their backing.

Inigo Martinez was recently the subject of a viral social media clip
Inigo Martinez Inigo Martinez was recently the subject of a viral social media clip (Mike Egerton/PA)

Pochettino suggested the player had been deliberately provoked in order that his reaction could be filmed and posted online.

“It is society that consumes (this material),” he said. “All that people are interested in are bad things.

“We are a bit responsible also. We opened the door, all the documentaries. People want to see when we are fighting but never things that are good, happy things. They want to find the wrong things. That is the society that we are all involved in.”