Football pundit & former Arsenal defender Alex Scott has spoken of her ongoing experience of receiving social media abuse, saying that she has to remind herself that she takes the hit for the positive reason that other women of colour are gradually coming to the forefront of football broadcasting.
In a new episode of ‘Between The Lines’ podcast (episode out now, available here) which explores the way in which hate speech on social media platforms has permeated football across all levels of the game, Scott spoke with host Melissa Reddy about her experiences of online abuse, in particular since she has transitioned from player to the role of pundit.
Alex Scott: “Before, when I used to see all the messages, I’d be like ‘oh my gosh, I can’t take this, I’m talking about something that I love, I don’t get it’. For me, it’s just reminding myself with that sometimes that I know I’m helping create this change and there’s a bigger picture that I need to keep my head down and keep focused and keep working towards.
“I think, because I spoke out about it before, I went through a stage where it really did affect me. Some of the comments… I knew I couldn’t tell my mum because then she’d be worrying, and I was taking all this negativity on to myself. I kind of lost myself and my personality because I knew everything that was going on around it. It’s not until I actually got to a stage where I thought ‘I can’t take this anymore, it is becoming too much for me’ that I spoke out about it. And when I did speak out about it, it helped, it changed, because people didn’t realise that I was struggling with it. You can’t help someone unless you actively speak out about it.
“What I’ve done now is that when I’m going through those times, I do, I say to people – I think we’ve just seen recently that I’ve gone through it again with everything that just happened – but I know it is changing. People know that we are ready for change in this country, and in other countries too actually, all around the world. I’ve been at the forefront and I’m taking all the hit, but like I said, I remind myself that I’m doing it for a positive reason – there’s others coming through.”
According to Midlands TV – later in the interview, Scott went on to outline how, as a woman of colour working in football, there is more pressure on her to perform in her punditry roles, with the spotlight on any mistakes being more intense.
Alex Scott: “In the field that we’re in, we know if we do one mistake or we say one name that’s wrong, it’s going to be scrutinised. I think for me, I’m never in competition with anybody else, I’m in competition with myself. I always want to be the best that I can be, no matter what TV programme that I’m on. I know that when I come away, I analyse myself all the time – I should have said this, I could have done that, I could have provided more insight there – so for me, no matter what job I’m doing, when I was a football player, I wanted to be the best for me or I felt I was letting myself down.
“Actually, I still pinch myself, to be honest, because I don’t think I transitioned into this thinking ‘I want to make headlines, I want to be that first female, I want to do this’ – I was thinking ‘why are there not more females?’ I couldn’t understand. I know about this sport, I talk about it constantly with all my friends, I’ve played at the highest level. In my head, I just couldn’t understand why not. That’s why I went into it, not for the headlines, but to be passionate about what I do. I was like, ‘you need more females, we need this representation.'”