Police launch investigation after Canaries fans become targets of abuse
PUBLISHED: 14:50 17 September 2020 | UPDATED: 08:31 18 September 2020
A police investigation is underway after dozens of Norwich City fans were targeted by an online troll who encouraged people to send them hateful messages and vote for those they most disliked.
A Twitter account, named World Cup of Norwich *****, began running polls of well-known City fans earlier this week, encouraging users to vote and spread hateful messages online and directly to them.
The account, which had more than 500 followers, was suspended, before user Joe Green resumed the polls on his public profile, amassing 421 votes in the ‘final’.
Mr Green, a Norwich City fan who lives in Norfolk and whom included himself in the polls, targeted 31 other fans, with Norfolk Police confirming officers were investigating an allegation of malicious communications relating to a Twitter account, with enquiries ongoing.
It is understood that a subsequent racist comment from another user, not Mr Green, has also been highlighted to the police.
Connor Southwell, Norwich City reporter for the EDP, was one of those targeted and said: “I wasn’t particularly bothered. Rightly or wrongly, it’s something that we have to put up with in our job, so I’ve developed a fairly thick skin and I initially took it as the joke I thought it was.
“But it did concern me that a high number of those involved have publicly spoken about their struggles with mental health and while I knew I could handle it, I was fully aware others may not be able to.
“When it became persistent, it was clear to see the damage it was doing to some of those involved.
“Some were being sent hateful messages for voicing their unhappiness and a few have even deactivated their accounts.
“If it’s a joke, then it has developed to a stage of malice and it has hurt a number of people.
“Any form of abuse isn’t nice, but when it’s online and directed at people who just have a love for their football club, it’s difficult to accept.”
When approached, Mr Green refused to apologise and declined to comment further other than to make allegations which we cannot publish for legal reasons.
Following the polls, he tweeted on Wednesday: “I’ll put on record for the benefit of anyone who thinks they’ve got one over by emailing the club.
“I shall not be apologising at any point for this.”
Mr Green’s account was suspended following publication of this article online.
One Norwich fan targeted, who wished to remain anonymous, called on the club to distance themselves from those involved.
They said: “It’s bullying, simple as that.
“The people who have been targeted have done nothing but be passionate about their football club.
“The victims are pretty helpless so I hope the club decide they don’t want people like this associated with it.
“It’s nothing but cruel.”
A spokesperson for Norwich City Football Club said: “Norwich City operates a zero-tolerance policy on all forms of discriminatory abuse.
“The club have also referred the matter to Norfolk Police.”
Another fan targeted, who also wished to remain anonymous, said: “If you’re that negative and that way inclined, do it privately. But to do it publicly, and to tag people in it crosses a line by a distance.
“Early on, people involved were trying to shrug it off, laugh along with it, then it became apparent the people who were involved were encouraging it to be harmful.
“The lack of awareness or remorse from them is terrible.”
Another fan, who also wished to remain anonymous, said: “I wasn’t bothered initially and it felt like one of those things that needed to be played along with rather than getting the hump over, not that it was particularly pleasant from any angle.
“But the tone of his follow-up tweets made it clear it was done out of spite and nastiness rather than any sense of fun, and from thereon in it was effectively finished.
“If some of those involved felt they were being bullied, then they were being bullied.
“More troubling, for me, was the number of people who joined in, siding with and ‘liking’ Joe’s tweets.
“That, for me, is an even bigger problem.”
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