Former young Socceroo and A-League Player Josh Hope quits football due to abuse. “I never thought it would get to the point it did”

By Sha Nen

At only age 22, former Olyroos and Melbourne Victory play Josh Hope has announced he is stepping away from professional football.

In a heartfelt post on his Instagram page, Hope stated he was leaving football for now mentioning the abuse that he, and other footballers received as the reason.

Hope has been a Melbourne Victory player since 2016, amassing 41 apps in all competitions.

“Some of the things I would see not only regarding myself but others was nothing less than abuse. And I’m not talking Football related!”

“Without a doubt this is the hardest decision I’ve ever made but I hope at the end of it I’m going to come back stronger. Mind and body”

At the end of the 2019/2020 season, Victory announced Hope would not be signing a new contract after appearing 8 times throughout the season.

Sadly not just in football but in all sports, seeing so-called fans send abusive messages to footballers and their family is far from a rare thing, and it in my opinion is unacceptable.

We as fans need to remember that at the end of the day, these aren’t robots, they’re people and sending hateful messages and even in some cases death threats is not okay.

“The anxiety that comes with this shit is crazy, I never thought it would get to the point it did. I kept pretty quiet about it for a long time but I started to see it creep into my day to day life. And at the end of the day it made me not enjoy my football.. at all.”

It’s understandable being a passionate fan and being frustrated if your team loses, or a player gives the ball away, we have all been there, but when it gets to the point where you’re actually sending hate-filled messages to that player or their family members, that is beyond too far

It’s not acceptable to say these things just because someone is a high-profile athlete, they are still human like you and I, they have feelings and emotions too.

I spoke earlier with a current professional footballer in the A-League, who wished to remain anonymous about the toxic side of the fans, and here is what they had to say.

“I remember when I made my debut, it was the proudest moment of my life.. but then I got home and checked Instagram and had quite a few messages telling me how rubbish I was, and it hurt.”

“Still to this day, I get tons of messages saying that I am ‘Stealing a living’ and they wish I would do my ACL and other nasty stuff.

Even my mum was getting messages from supposed fans abusing her for giving birth to me.”

“I can usually drown it out. But there are days where it really gets to you, it really makes you feel worthless..

I once asked a fan who told me he wanted me shot why, and he said he was ‘Just passionate’ that’s not passion. That’s bullying, and you wouldn’t say it to anyone else, so why us?”

As sad as it is to hear that Josh Hope has chosen to give up football due to this, despite having a bright future in the game, hopefully it will make those fans who take it too far realise that at the end of the day it is just a game.

It is important to remember this across all aspects of the game. From the 5 year olds that you think are little Messi’s and Ronaldo’s running around to the NPL players playing semi-professionally, maybe trying to crack into the A-League.

We here are The Clean Sheet take mental health very seriously, and if you need help please reach out to places such as The Black Dog Institute, Headspace, Lifeline or even drop us a line.

I would like to wish Josh all the best with whatever he chooses to do after football.

Headspace
Lifeline 13 11 14
Black Dog
Beyond Blue 1300 22 4636
Suicide Call Back Service 1300 649 467

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