FA demands police and Instagram 'take action' after Chelsea captain Karen Carney subjected to rape and death threats

Katie Whyatt

The FA has demanded the police and social media companies take action against the “growing problem” of abuse towards female players after Chelsea and England midfielder Karen Carney was subjected to rape and death threats during a game.

Carney, 31, revealed on Thursday that an Instagram user sent her three threatening messages in the second half of Chelsea’s 1-0 Champions League last 16 win over Fiorentina on Wednesday night, in which she scored the only goal.

User dzo09 contacted Carney at 9.22pm, saying: “How many chances you need to score in second half stupid b------”, “I wish you cancer and leukemia” and “I hope someone will rape you to death”.

Carney posted the comments with the caption: “Wow some people” and the England Women head coach Phil Neville then shared a screengrab of Carney’s post, adding: “A message sent to one of my @lionesses players last night absolutely disgraceful - @instagram are you going to do something about it!!!!!”

The FA has now joined the call for more decisive steps to be taken after a huge increase in the number of abusive social media posts aimed at female players.

In May, Women in Football’s sexism abuse report for the 2017-18 season revealed it had witnessed an increase of almost 400 per cent in the number of sexual harassment and discrimination incidents it was handling compared to the 2016/17 campaign, while attacks on social media had risen by 285.4 per cent.

The FA has demanded more be done to prevent a repeat of incidents such as the abuse levelled at Carney, who has won 133 caps for England.

“We are appalled and dismayed by the abuse directed towards Karen Carney on social media,” said an FA spokesperson. “The FA takes such matters extremely seriously and we are offering our full support to Karen. The abuse of players on social networking sites is a serious concern and we call on the police and social media organisations to do everything they can to help tackle this growing problem.

“We provide all our senior England players with training, guidance and support on the use of social media and treat our duty of care in this regard with the utmost importance.”

The Metropolitan Police has not yet received an official complaint regarding the incident, but Women in Football believes that use of “toxic language and threats” are now commonplace in female sport, with Carney’s case simply the most high-profile in what is an increasing trend.

Phil Neville has asked Instagram take action about the rising tide of disgusting abuse aimed at women players Credit: Catherine Ivill/Getty Images

“No one should be targeted for abuse because of their gender, or subjected to gender-based abusive language,” said the organisation. “Time and again Women in Football sees evidence of women being on the receiving end of this kind of toxic language or threat. We wholly condemn it and call on social media platforms, media outlets and clubs to act in ensuring the perpetrators face the consequences of their actions.”

That call for further regulation of social media sites was echoed by Lord Ouseley, chair of Kick It Out.

“This abuse is disgusting and we offer our total support to Karen Carney,” he said. “While the fault lies with the people who post this nastiness. The social media platforms themselves have to do more to stamp it out. The great connectivity and freedom of speech that Facebook, Instagram and Twitter gives to its users is totally undermined when this kind of hate is allowed unchecked and with the cover of anonymity."

Instagram employ ‘Machine Learning’ technology to hide comments and captions which contain attacks on a person’s appearance or character, as well as threats to their well being or health. However, it is understood that as the comments were delivered to Carney’s private messages, they were not screened and removed. The Telegraph understands the account dzo09 was removed for violating the site’s Community Guidelines after it was reported, with Instagram later saying they take issues of threats and violence extremely seriously.

"We do not tolerate threatening or abusive behavior, and the account that sent these messages has been removed from Instagram,” an Instagram spokesperson told the Telegraph. “We encourage anyone who sees content of this kind to report it via our in-app tools and our global team work 24/7 to review and remove anything that violates our Community Guidelines.”