“It’s disgusting some of the abuse players cop.”
The World Players Association, brings together the likes of FIFPro, the National Basketball Players Association, the NFLPA and other groups including the Australian Athletes’ Alliance – of which the AFLPA is a part.
The World Players is working on minimum standards for sports to endorse on social media in the hope they can go to social media companies and ask for more to be done to combat trolls.
AFLPA general manager of player development Ben Smith said players couldn’t do it all themselves but could set a standard for others to follow.
“It’s not going to be something that just the players can resolve but if the players can lead the way around expected behaviour and when it’s not appropriate call it out,” Smith told The Age.
“It’s a small amount of the community who chose to use the platform for what it is not intended to be used for and we need to keep working and keep calling it out.”
Smith emphasised different players wanted to handle trolls differently with some wanting no action taken, some wanting AFLPA support and others like Beams getting on the front foot.
Beams lost his father, Philip, to prostate cancer last year, when Dayne was captain of Brisbane. “Footy wasn’t just a game for me, it was what drew me and my dad together,” Beams told The Age earlier this season. “To lose that part of me was devastating.”
In April Beams revealed on Channel Seven’s Talking Footy he had reached out to some trolls via direct messages and had found several of them apologised for their actions and said they were emotional or drunk when they wrote them.
Smith said players and fans could have some great interactions online but abuse couldn’t be tolerated.
“Passionate supporters are what make our game great but we want to see that passion managed in a respectful way,” Smith said.
“We place that expectation on our players and we hold them to account on relation to codes and requirements they have and we want the community to use this platform to get to know our players better but do it in a respectful way.”
Any global action could be a year or more away but Smith said he hoped unified action could help reduce the frequency of online abuse.
“What they will be looking towards is standards and then working globally with platform providers around making sure they are being regulated,” Smith said.
“It’s a challenge that sport is dealing with globally and WPA is working with those key social media platforms to manage expectations in relation to behaviour and standards.
“It’s a global issue for sports and athletes and not just athletes but people as well.”
Roy Ward is a Sports writer for The Age.