The AFL Integrity Unit has vowed to track down and reprimand the online trolls who subjected Tayla Harris to vile and degrading comments, as startling new details emerge about the ‘keyboard warriors’.
A report by The New Daily has revealed that some of the trolls are actually footy players themselves.
“The New Daily has found that many young men behind vulgar, sexually-degrading comments on AFLW photos are players from Victorian sporting clubs,” the report says.
“One comment on a spectacular action shot of Harris mid-kick referred to her genitals and came from the account of a former player from the Ringwood area who is now believed to be playing in a Yarra Ranges league in Melbourne’s east.”
The New Daily reports the trolling didn’t stop on Wednesday, even after the furore around the treatment of Harris.
“Revelations fellow players were behind some of the online trolling pointed to a cultural issue within the code,” the report says.
‘Tip of the iceberg’
The startling revelations come after Harris’ manager revealed the full extent of female footy players’ online treatment.
“[Trolling] is pretty common, especially in the direct messages section of Instagram, if the girls are having a bad game or moving clubs,” Alex Saundry told The Age., who manages many female players.
Saundry, who manages a number of AFLW players, said the messages were “astonishing, threatening, violating. It’s horrific.”
“Criticism comes with the game, but there needs to be at least an element of controlling it online.
“It definitely does take a toll [on the players] mentally.”
Harris hopes stand will spark change
It would have been easier for Harris to ignore the vile online responses to the picture of her kicking for goal, but she didn’t.
And she hopes her stand will be the catalyst for change.
“If I can stand up here and say something about it and start the conversation … if that helps one person or heaps of people then that’s what I want to do,” Harris said at Ikon Park on Wednesday.
“I’m fine with people commenting on and critiquing my football, I understand that is the football beast, but it’s the comments that are severely inappropriate, comments that my family will read.
“… The support that has come from this has been phenomenal.
“I think that has shut down anyone who would have made a comment … I hope they’d be thinking ‘I’ve mucked up here’ and hopefully they won’t do it again.
“That’s all you can really ask.”
Earlier on Wednesday, Harris described the comments as “sexual abuse” in an interview on RSN.