Erik Pieters won't be joining Thierry Henry's social media blackout - but the Burnley defender says 'enough is enough'!
Burnley's Erik Pieters won't be joining Thierry Henry's social media blackout any time soon - but the Dutchman agrees that 'enough is enough'.
The ex-Arsenal striker, who stepped down as Montreal Impact's head coach in February, deactivated his accounts across several platforms as a stand against racism, bullying and abuse online.
Henry is demanding better accountability on all networks and has called on those in control of leading organisations to verify all users by way of official documentation.
"For me, social media abuse is really off the radar," said Pieters. "Loads of people struggle with it, others can move it aside and continue with our lives.
"I think it’s a serious thing, not easy to stop it. People hide behind fake accounts, it’s a really big job.
"People might really struggle and you have to take it seriously but you don’t want to give these people too much attention because that’s what they want."
Pieters was subjected to repulsive and reprehensible taunts following the Clarets' 1-1 draw against the Gunners at Turf Moor last month.
The 32-year-old endured an action-packed 25-minute spell after replacing Charlie Taylor having evaded a couple of penalty appeals and seeing his red card rescinded by Andre Marriner.
The former Stoke City defender was tormented on Instagram in the aftermath, with threats made towards him and his family.
Pieters accepted that there is no room for such deplorable behaviour in today's society, in no way, shape or form, but he's refusing to give the trolls the attention they so clearly crave.
"I didn’t give them any attention, I just got on with my life," he said. "I’ve got way more important things in my life than reacting and worrying about that.
Social abuse is a really serious thing, particularly now. I won’t let people put comments under my pictures, or pictures of the missus, talk about me.
"I won’t give it to them. It’s my life, everyone must be happy that people who are in the public eye are willing to share their lives.
"People should be thankful for that. We want social media to share our experiences with our fans. It’s a good platform."
Pieters won't allow a narrow-minded minority to govern his life. He won't be boycotting social media. Instead, he'll continue to interact and share snippets of his personal life with those that use social media in the right manner.
Pieters, who is expecting his first child with wife Nermina any day now, said: "Of course have an opinion about how we play, sometimes they are right, sometimes they are wrong. But abuse is not part of life.”
"The hardest part was that it was going towards my unborn child. Why do you want to do this?
"The missus was just laughing about it. She was born in Bosnia and had to flee the country because of the war so to compare it to some words on social media, it is quite easy to move it aside.
"We were fine, well not fine, but it was easy to move aside and continue with our lives.
"But it is something that shouldn't be there but it has been there for a long, long time and it is a difficult thing to stop."
He finished: "We get a great support on social media and everyone is so lovely towards us and we really, really appreciate it. And then you have a couple of comments underneath where you are like 'come on.'
"I had a busy day or half a day deleting all those messages. I know it is part of life being in the public eye and I don't mind having something to talk about or if I play a bad game, but don't go abusing me, my missus or an unborn child.
"That is not part of life. We are much better than that, I think everyone is. It doesn't belong in the world."