United Kingdom

Female sports stars 'are sent unsolicited images of male genitalia on a daily basis'

Female sports stars are sent unsolicited pictures of male genitalia on a daily basis, a lawyer has said.

Despite it being a criminal offence to send these images without the recipient's consent, anonymous accounts are bombarding professional footballers, cricketers and rugby players. 

Players in the Women's Super League, the highest football division in this country, have said that the scale of the issue means they feel it's unrealistic to report every single incident, a report in the i newspaper has said. 

Female sports stars are being sent unsolicited images of male genitalia on a daily basis

Liverpool have condemned racist and sexist abuse sent to women's player Rinsola Babajide

Matt Himsworth regularly runs workshops with first-team players in the men's and women's game and admits he was taken aback by the regularity with which female athletes receive these images.

'It was shocking to hear female athletes saying to me this is something that happens all the time. It means social media is an unsafe environment,' he said.  

'We're doing lots of education sessions with women's groups, whether it be under 18s or first-team squads, and we're being really supportive and saying this is an exciting time, but they're also going to start to get some of the awful filth that happens with the men's game and are still going to get the awful filth you get as female athletes. They will suffer. 

'One thing we say to all women footballers, rugby players, cricketers we work with is it's not right and it's not acceptable. It's a criminal offence to send something indecent, obscene, or menacing in character. 

'Our advice to players is if you're receiving messages that are making your life intolerable then we will support them in relation to any criminal action or prosecution.'   

Social media giants like Facebook and Twitter have come under fire for resisting calls for all users to face compulsory ID verification before opening an account following a spate of high-profile incidents in which players received racist abuse. 

Liverpool said the abuse Babajide received was 'appalling' and threw support behind her

Swansea are boycotting social media for a week to protest racist abuse aimed at their players

Swansea are currently taking part in a one-week social media boycott in protest at the racist messages players Ben Cabango, Yan Dhanda and Jamal Lowe have received online. 

Meanwhile, Liverpool condemned the 'unacceptable' racist and sexist abuse top women's player Rinsola Babajide received and men's team captain Jordan Henderson handed his Twitter account over to an anti-cyberbullying charity.

Himsworth has represented sportswomen who have had their iCloud accounts and explicit messages leaked online, with one malicious account being taken down after a year and a half, with Twitter asking the sportswoman to send over ID before they would take action, despite ID not being required for the perpetrators to open an account.  

Jordan Henderson has handed over his Twitter account to an anti-cyberbullying charity

The removed account had targeted other female athletes, Himsworth said.   

'As a lawyer, you can’t wave a magic wand and make it go away because it proliferates,' he admitted. 

'Images and photos will appear on lots of different websites to make it difficult to completely clear them.'

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