England soccer player Karen Carney has received Instagram messages wishing her “cancer and leukemia,” and hoping that “someone will rape you to death,” sparking concern, anger and calls for much stronger action on online abuse.
Chelsea forward Carney received the threats Wednesday following her team’s win over Italy’s Fiorentina in the Champions League, in which she scored the only goal.
According to the BBC, she did not report the abuse to police, instead posting a response that read: “Wow, some people…”
This provoked a strong response from the English Football Association (FA) and England national women’s team coach Phil Neville.
The FA called on Instagram and the police to act. “We are appalled and dismayed by the abuse directed towards Karen Carney on social media,” read a statement.
“The abuse of players on social networking sites is a serious concern and we call on the police and social media organizations to do everything they can to help tackle this growing problem,” it continued.
Former Manchester United star Neville shared the offensive Instagram post, which began: “How many chances you need to score in second half stupid b*****s.”
The coach later shared another message to an unnamed women’s national team player in which another Instagram user said: “I’m going to rape and kill you.”
Neville called the messages “absolutely disgraceful” and also later asked Instagram: “Are you going to do something about it?”
An Instagram spokesperson said that the company “does not tolerate threatening or abusive behavior” and the account that sent the messages has been removed.
“We encourage anyone who sees content of this kind to report it via our in-app tools and our global team work 24/7 to review and remove anything that violates our community guidelines,” said the spokesperson.
London’s Metropolitan Police told the BBC that it “takes allegations of threatening and abusive behavior very seriously” and victims should report any such crimes to police in order for them to investigate.
Carney has made 133 international appearance for England after making her debut in the national team in 2005.