Renee Hector Speaks About The Fallout Of Reporting Racial Abuse Against Her

I am sure that all of you remember the unsavory incident when Tottenham Hotspur defender Renee Hector was racially abused by Sheffield United‘s Sophie Jones during a Championship match in January.

The player who suffered the first recorded case of racist abuse in women’s professional football has no regrets about reporting it despite “sinking into depression” as a result of subsequent online abuse.

An independent Football Association regulatory commission banned for five games and fined £200 but she denied the allegations that she had made monkey noises towards Hector.

Hector has since shared how she suffered cowardly and disgusting online abuse including being sent pictures of baby gorillas and abused about her weight. “The online abuse affected me really deeply, but it wasn’t just me, it affected my family and really affected my mum,” Hector told BBC Sport.

“I was just spiralling out of control, basically, I started sinking into depression because there were lots of insecurities that I had already and it was highlighted for the world to see.

“I had spent years struggling with my weight, it first started when my mum got diagnosed with breast cancer and I also tore my anterior cruciate ligament in my knee so I couldn’t play for a year.

“All the comments online sparked all those stories back in my head, and I was my own worst enemy.

“My lowest point was when I had to have a week off work, because I couldn’t physically leave my bed and didn’t really leave the house. Every time I looked in the mirror I felt disgusted with myself.”

She goes on to describe how she doesn’t have any hatred for Jones, who has also suffered her own abuse and subsequent struggles. Jones described “I’ve become a lot more anxious, paranoid and people still stare at me now even though it’s in the past. What really gets me is I’ve had to give up a sport that I love due to somebody’s allegation.”

Jones denied making the remarks during the game and at first Hector questioned what she’d heard. “I went to tell the referee what I heard and my team-mate confirmed it. When we got back to the changing room my team-mate told me who it was. Then I began to get a bit more emotional and angry about it.

“On the way out for the second half I told the referee who it was and she said she would listen out for anything else. Then I just had to get to get back out there and make sure I played the second half to the best of my ability.

“It was probably one of my best games of the season. So obviously I channeled my anger in the right way. It wasn’t until the final whistle that it all hit me. I felt quite emotional and just sat on the floor, reflecting on the situation.

“I couldn’t believe it because I think this is probably the only incident that’s been reported anywhere in women’s football.”

You can read more from Hector over on the BBC website and I implore you to read the full interview on there.

The way Hector has shown courage to stand up to racism and overcome the online trolls. She should be immensely proud of herself. She is true role model, not just for those in sport but for all victim’s of hate.

Hector was last week unveiled as a new recruit for Charlton Athletic. She will be hoping that this move can mark a fresh start for the 24-year-old.

Stuart Barker
hellosince71@gmail.com