City old boy joins Bale and Rashford in bullying campaign

Former Norwich City defender Jamal Lewis is lending his support to a football project aimed at ending online abuse

Former Norwich City defender Jamal Lewis is lending his support to a football project aimed at ending online abuse - Credit: Paul Chesterton/Focus Images Limited

Former Norwich City defender Jamal Lewis has joined forces with Gareth Bale and Marcus Rashford as part of ‘Hope United’ - a project striving to ram home the message online abuse is unacceptable. 

Lewis was targeted on social media during a difficult start to his Newcastle career, but is now part of a fresh drive to highlight the on going problem across society, in a BT Sport campaign backed by Rio Ferdinand. 

Football clubs and media publishers, including Norwich City and Archant, took part in a boycott earlier this month calling for social media companies to do more to combat the issue. 

“For some people the problem is that they struggle to find the difference between criticism and hate. It’s a big problem,” said Lewis, who along with fellow players from across the Home Nations have joined forces in an education project timed to run alongside the European Championships this summer.

“Then it spills over into racism, hateful comments and disgusting comments online, which there is just no need for.  

“I understand that footballers are seen as idols, but we're people as well. We play and entertain for a living but also deserve respect as well - just like everyone else.  

I think education is always good to do with anything. Education is always the first port of call to address any issue.

"There are so many issues in this world that are caused by people not being educated within the topic.” 

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Lewis feels removing the anonymity of toxic posters on social media is a vital step. 

"If you're giving out online hate or racism or sexism, whatever it is, you're able to be tracked down by authorities and actually held accountable,” he said. 

"I just don't think people are held accountable for their actions on social media, which is obviously the main problem. If people were, then the issue would be a lot less pronounced to what it is today. 

"Requesting more information to open accounts would be a great start. 

“But for me, personally, more information should be given to start a social media account.”  

The 23-year-old, who moved to Newcastle from Carrow Road for a reported £15m last summer, believes signing up Rashford and Liverpool captain Jordan Henderson underlines top flight footballers want change. 

“Marcus Rashford is doing many great things at the moment in the public eye. Jordan Henderson, Liverpool's captain and almost like a spokesman for all the captains in the Premier League,” said Lewis, in an interview carried on the Give Me Sport site. “To have people of that stature on the same campaign lets everyone know that this is serious. 

"These are figures that a lot of people look up to, not just at Manchester United or Liverpool, but in England as a collective and across the Home Nations.

"It's a big thing and it shows everyone that we're really serious about this.” 

Find out more about BT Sport's Hope United campaign here

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