It’s with startling regularity that I fear we might have broken the world when we invented the internet and its smiley-face buddy, social media.
If we ever needed proof that we’ve given too many bellends a platform, spare a thought for BT Sport pundit Lynsey Hipgrave, who was last week subjected to a barrage of abuse for daring to have a point of view.
For those of us who aren’t familiar with this issue, it hinges on a controversial Barcelona penalty against Celta Vigo. It was unorthodox, but a legal play; although according to some, this was a disrespectful and arrogant sleight against Barca’s opponents. Lynsey Hipgrave was in the “nah, mate” camp, and – as is also common practice for a sports pundit – expressed an opinion on the matter. Now, I was working on a sports desk the day after the penalty in question, with Sky Sports News playing to me as I went about my business, so I can confirm that Hipgrave was by no means on her own here, as the story rolled on for much of the day. Perhaps if Hipgrave had held off, they’d have had more of a response from the hundreds of people now concerned with taking her to task. Hipgrave, channelling my pal Bey’ stayed gracious to the last: “Most people in football get a fair bit of trolling,” she responded.

As someone writing about sport myself, it’s important to say that this should not be taken as a damning indictment on men in the industry – certainly this has not been my experience.
I mean, it is true that Andy Gray and Richard Keys recently tweeted a picture of themselves – from Doha where they’re still broadcasting together, for beIN Sports – celebrating the anniversary of being sacked by Sky for basically sexually harassing a female colleague, off air. I’ve spoken to female pundits who’ve said they’ve never experienced any jip from fans whatsoever. There are a whole lot of the bad ‘isms’ in society and in football, and it’s time to kick them all out. Jen is a writer from Essex, which isn’t relevant because she lives in London, but she likes people to know it. Don’t get me wrong, I like stalking objects of my affections on Instagram as much as the next person, but I can just about hold back from publicly shaming them when I discover they’ve got a secret French girlfriend.
It’s fairly common practice in football for the penalty taker to, well, take the penalty, but in four-time Ballon d’Or winner Lionel Messi’s case he decided to pass it to Luis Suarez instead. And it is true Keys also felt it necessary to criticise brilliant and hilarious sports writer Marina Hyde for having an opinion on the, let’s face it, provocative act.

Sure, someone told me to “make a cup of tea instead” while I was tweeting about SPOTY last year, but most people just want to have a chat about a subject they’re passionate about.
Likewise I’ve spoken to tremendously experienced pundits who’ve told me they keep their football tweets as bland as possible given the ferocity of some comments levelled against them in response.
Let’s be clear that the crime here is not being a woman: it’s being a shitwit with no sense of social propriety and probably little understanding of the kind of disrepute they bring on a game they profess to love. An ocean of dicksplashes proceeded to leap down her throat – because said pundit was a woman.

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