Bullying numbers show ‘serious problems’ in football – PFA

Almost 10 per cent of Premier League and EFL players surveyed by the Professional Footballers’ Association last season say they have experienced bullying during their career, while almost five per cent have had suicidal thoughts.

Wellbeing data released by the PFA to the PA news agency on World Mental Health Day highlights the social and mental health challenges faced by current and former professionals, but also the work the union is doing to help its members.

Seventy-nine of 843 male players in the EFL and Premier League surveyed over the course of last season said they had been bullied at some point in their professional lives, while 40 said they had had thoughts of suicide over the three months to be taken prior to the completion of the survey.

dr Michael Bennett, Director of PFA Well-Being, said of the bullying statistics: “These are stark numbers that illustrate how serious these issues are at play.

“Based on that feedback, we’ve adjusted this season’s sessions to learn more about the nature of bullied players.

“It could be peer-on-peer bullying by teammates in the locker room or on the training ground, for example. This can be done by club staff or management.

“We are particularly concerned about transfer windows. We know players can become isolated from their squads when a club tries to force a move. We often have to deal with such cases.

“Ultimately, it’s a player’s place of work, whether it’s the training ground or the stadium on a match day. You have the right to feel protected and safe at work. It may seem obvious, but any form of bullying has a lasting impact on a person’s mental health.

“This type of approach helps us identify issues like bullying and then allows us to take proactive action on behalf of members.

“We are constantly evolving our sessions on a variety of topics based on the information players give us. This happens at all levels, from academy players to first-team squads.

“Having this information of this magnitude across different age groups of both men’s and women’s football gives us a unique and up-to-date insight into player well-being across English professional football. Importantly, we can also ensure that we are showing players clear pathways specific to the issues affecting them.”

Twelve percent of players – 98 – said they felt pressured or emotionally distressed to get vaccinated against Covid-19.

Data was collected at wellness workshops held at clubs throughout the 2021-22 campaign.



It’s a constant roller coaster ride. A bad pass or a missed opportunity, your self-confidence is lost. Score a goal and the adrenaline will pump.

PFA Director of Wellbeing Dr. Michael Bennett

It found that 189 of the 843 players – more than a fifth – experienced severe anxiety, to the point of feeling scared or that something terrible was about to happen.

dr Bennett added: “Top-level sport can be a high-pressure and competitive environment. Professional football is a results-driven industry, with players and employees having careers at stake. Livelihoods are at stake.

“It’s a constant roller coaster ride. A bad pass or a missed opportunity, your self-confidence is lost. Score a goal and the adrenaline will pump.

“Players are often subject to short-term focus and factors beyond their control, such as injuries, transfer policies and team selection. All of which can have a dramatic impact on their long-term careers.

“We run wellness workshops at clubs with players of all ages, from academy to first team. These sessions are essential to creating a safe place to talk about mental health.

“The data shows that most players will be concerned about at least some aspects of their well-being. These conversations help normalize the mental health conversation with the team.

“After the workshops, we ask players to take part in a confidential online survey. This gives players the opportunity to speak openly about the issues affecting them, but most importantly it is a safe space for them to seek further support from the PFA if they feel they need it.

“At the end of the visit we give the club an anonymized breakdown of the issues affecting their squad, which we know from feedback is valuable information. We can help the club ensure players have clear ways to access appropriate help.”

At a workshop in Blackpool, Jake Daniels asked for support via the online survey regarding his sexuality for the first time. In May, Daniels became the first active player in English men’s football to come out as gay in over 30 years.

Before coming out, he had led a six-month process involving the PFA and Blackpool to ensure the comfortable environment possible was created around him.

The club and union continue to support him.

The PFA also revealed that 520 members sought advice or support services through Sporting Chance last season. Forty-seven percent were current players, 48 ​​percent were former players, and five percent were family members of players whom the union had agreed to support.

Nine percent of the 520 were female players, 86 percent of whom are current and 14 percent former players.

https://www.independent.co.uk/sport/football/pfa-efl-jake-daniels-premier-league-english-b2199108.html Bullying numbers show ‘serious problems’ in football – PFA

Fry Electronics Team

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