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Footballers and people with epilepsy team up to tackle internet trolls

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Nicola Swanborough

Footballers and people with epilepsy team up to tackle internet trolls

Footballers are putting up a united front alongside people with epilepsy as they ask Prince William, president of the Football Association, for his support in tackling internet trolls.

Today, Friday, footballers and clubs will be staging a four-day boycott of social media in protest at the continued online abuse and racism aimed at footballers.

Now footballers with epilepsy are also joining forces with UK charity, the Epilepsy Society, and Everton in the Community, the official charity of Everton Football Club, to highlight malicious tweets sent by internet trolls to trigger seizures in people with epilepsy.

The charity’s twitter feed has been bombarded with hundreds of flashing images which have caused seizures in people around the world.

And the charity is asking Prince William to lend his support in safeguarding people with a disability from this type of abuse.

Flashing images

In a letter to the Prince, co-signed by Richard Kenyon, Chief Executive of Everton in the Community, and footballers with epilepsy from across the UK and Japan, Clare Pelham, Chief Executive of the Epilepsy Society said: “In recent years, there have been incidents where flashing lights displayed before matches have caused problems for people with epilepsy. But football clubs have been prompt in addressing this issue so that matches are safe for everyone. 

“Sadly, footballers and fans with epilepsy remain at risk from online flashing images that are beyond our control.  We would very much welcome any support that you are able to offer in helping us to safeguard such a vulnerable group of people. 

“We do not know of any other disability where people can be singled out by trolls and targeted with harmful posts to cause physical injury, all with the protection of anonymity afforded by Twitter.”

Leon Legge

Leon Legge, Centre-Half for Port Vale Football Club has epilepsy and has been targeted by trolls on social media. Talking as part of the charity’s campaign to tackle online abuse, he said: “It is a form of bullying and people are just getting away with it. I’ve never seen an arrest or prosecution in this area and I think it is time for social media to catch up with the law.

“Luckily, I am not photosensitive, but if I was to have a seizure, the recovery time to get back to training and get back playing would be around a week. And my wife would be left to deal with two kids and run a business by herself.

“The law is miles behind. It is so easy to make up fake profiles and get away with it. There need to be measures in place so you have to give your passport ID when signing up for social media. That way people who target others can be traced and caught.”


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