Granit Xhaka makes emotional admission about the effects of online abuse

Arsenal midfielder Granit Xhaka has opened up on the effects of the social media abuse he has received during his time at the club – and revealed how close he was to leaving on one occasion.

The Switzerland international has often been targeted online by fans of Arsenal and other clubs.

In addition, he has been the subject of racial abuse on social media on several occasions. It was revealed that several of the accounts abusing Xhaka identified themselves as Arsenal season ticket holders. The midfielder has also received threats of violence.

Speaking before his side’s Europa League last 32 tie against Benfica last season, Xhaka revealed that his family had also been abused online. That included his young daughter, who was born in 2019.

The Crystal Palace incident

Granit Xhaka received a considerable amount of abuse following an incident in October 2019. When he was substituted during Arsenal’s Premier League game against Crystal Palace, the midfielder was booed by his own supporters.

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In response, Xhaka cupped his hand to his ears and appeared to mouth ‘f*** off’ towards a section of the home support.

The following month, he was stripped of the captaincy by manager Unai Emery. Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang was named as his successor.

Speaking to The Players’ Tribune, Xhaka revealed how close he was to leaving Arsenal after the incident.

He explained: “I see a lot of hate from the people outside. But the most difficult thing was for my parents, I think. Because they were in the stadium, both of them.

“So for them to see that, to feel that, was maybe worse than I felt it. This was the first time my dad said to me, ‘It’s time to go’.

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“And he would never say that to me, because [some] problems where I didn’t play in Germany at the beginning, and he said to me, ‘To walk away is easy’. This time he said, ‘It’s time to go’.

“From the stadium until home, you drive minimum 50 minutes to one hour. It was like, no words. From nobody.”

Xhaka opens up on how social media abuse has affected his family

Granit Xhaka also talked about the difficulties of coping with online abuse. He insisted that he could take any criticism but takes serious issue whenever his family is brought into any abuse.

“You have a lot of pressure. Sometimes after the game, you don’t sleep until five or six o’clock in the morning,” he began.

Image Credit: Getty

“People know that? No. They don’t care about you. The easiest way is to speak. To go into the social media, to write comments and to speak about, ‘Yeah he was bad’, ‘Yeah he was shit, and I hope your kids are dead tomorrow, your wife…’. Come on, man. Where are we living? What is this?

“Of course, when you decide to be a professional footballer, you have to take it sometimes. But sometimes it is very hard.

“I always told myself, and to the people, they know me, you can criticise me. You can say about me whatever you want. I’ve no doubts about it. But don’t touch my family. Because there is a limit.

“My little ones, or my friends, or my wife, or my brother, or my parents have nothing to do with me. Because I’m the guy on the pitch. So speak about me, please.”

Featured Image Credit: Getty