LIVERPOOL, ENGLAND - Tuesday, November 23, 2021: Liverpool players stand in a circle and clap before a training session at the AXA Training Centre ahead of the UEFA Champions League Group B Matchday 4 game between Liverpool FC and FC Porto. (Pic by David Rawcliffe/Propaganda)

Liverpool hire mental health therapist to deal with online abuse – first in Premier League

Liverpool have become the first Premier League club to appoint a mental health therapist to deal with an increase in online abuse faced by young players.

As technology and social habits develop through the years, the influence of social media on footballers has stepped up dramatically.

It is rare to see a player not comment on or react to a result on Twitter or Instagram after any game, while their interactions with fans have increased too.

For many, it is an extension of their personal brand, but for others, it is simply a part of their life, particularly those youngsters breaking through in the modern era.

Liverpool have already seen 10 teenagers make an appearance for the first team this season, for example, with Harvey Elliott, Kaide Gordon and Tyler Morton chief among those.

The impact of online abuse has been hammered home, then, with racist incidents involving Sadio Mane and Trent Alexander-Arnold, while Neco Williams became the focus of intense criticism last season.

As the club endeavours to cover as much ground as possible and support their players and staff, psychiatric therapist Ishbel Straker has now been brought in to give guidance.

The Mail report that Straker has been appointed to “hold one-on-one clinics with upcoming stars, helping them to cope with racist abuse, sudden fame and addiction issues.”

PORTO, PORTUGAL - Tuesday, September 28, 2021: Liverpool's Said Mané kneels down (takes a knee) in support of the Black Lives Matter movement before the UEFA Champions League Group B Matchday 2 game between FC Porto and Liverpool FC at the Estádio do Dragão. (Pic by David Rawcliffe/Propaganda)

CEO of I Straker Consultants, the Liverpool-based therapist has been working with the club for the past three months, serving as an external consultant for the academy.

That includes the under-23s and under-18s squads, which regularly feature the likes of Gordon and Morton, along with foreign talents such as Marcelo Pitaluga, Billy Koumetio and Mateusz Musialowski.

Straker’s focus within the club is racial trauma, which also affected Naby Keita last season, with a police investigation launched into online abuse of the midfielder, along with Alexander-Arnold, after the defeat to Real Madrid in April.

“The club is very keen to make sure the young players who are coming through, or just breaking into the first team, are prepared for what can come their way online,” a source told the Mail.

“Trolling for some footballers has been as bad as it ever has been in the last 12 months and most young players are locked into social media.

“The new mental health consultant is giving young players the chance to talk about the abuse they get and get bespoke advice on how they can cope with that.”