Pochettino condemns online abuse aimed at Gallagher after mascot incident


Chelsea boss Mauricio Pochettino launched a passionate defence of Conor Gallagher after the midfielder received online abuse for appearing to snub a mascot’s handshake before his side’s Premier League clash with Burnley last Saturday.

The incident occurred in the tunnel immediately ahead of kick-off when the Blues played Burnley at Stamford Bridge on Saturday, with the 24-year-old seemingly not noticing that one of the mascots had held up his hand. The footage went viral.

It led to abuse aimed towards the England international, with Chelsea subsequently releasing a statement to say that the “defamatory comments” made towards Gallagher were “completely unacceptable” and that the video had been taken “considerably out of context”.

The Chelsea statement said: “Chelsea Football Club is aware of a video clip circulating on social media from Saturday’s fixture against Burnley, which has been taken considerably out of context.

“The subsequent level of abuse and defamatory comments directed towards Conor Gallagher is completely unacceptable.

“We are proud to be a diverse, inclusive club where people from all cultures, communities and identities feel welcome.”

‘No one deserves to be abused’

Chelsea's head coach Mauricio Pochettino, right, hugs Chelsea's Conor Gallagher to celebrate their win in the English FA Cup soccer match against Preston North End at Stamford Bridge stadium in London, Saturday, Jan. 6, 2024. (AP Photo/Kirsty Wigglesworth)
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Pochettino rejected any suggestion that Gallagher acted intentionally when appearing to snub a mascot

Pochettino, speaking to the media ahead of Chelsea’s Premier League clash with Manchester United on Thursday, rejected any suggestion that the player acted intentionally, and condemned the online reaction to the incident.

“That has upset me so much because no one wants to do something like this with this intention,” he said.

“He was so wary of too many videos, photography and pictures about if he was really aware of both mascots. When you play football, when you are there and you are focusing on too many things, you focus to play, to start the game, that sometimes can happen.

“But I think people want to abuse people. People always try to find things to create a mess and to abuse the people that, if you know … I know Conor. I know the people that are involved here in Chelsea. I can talk for the people that I know and come on, never is that intention. Conor is a great, great kid and is always caring about everything.

“I hate when the people feel free to abuse on social media in things like this. You don’t believe that we need to stop these types of things? It’s like today if to abuse the people is so easy and then it is to pay attention of that when it never happened.

“To give too much attention to the people who want to create this type of thing, this mess, and to insult and to abuse other people, please stop. I think we are all responsible for that. How is it possible that the intention of Conor is to ignore a mascot? Come on.

“And then, come on, it makes me very sad because I know Conor and he does not deserve to be abused.

“No one deserves to be abused but him, come on, knowing him… I am seeing too many things happening not only in England but the rest of the world. Our responsibility altogether is to try to ignore these type of things and the people who try to create this type of things never help our lives.

“Of course, the game that we are involved in, football, the people that come, does not deserve to pay attention. We need to keep moving and for me it is about to support Conor, to support all the people that sometimes get abused.”

Chelsea's Conor Gallagher celebrates scoring their side's first goal of the game during the Premier League match at Selhurst Park, London. Picture date: Monday February 12, 2024.
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Chelsea released a statement condemning the abuse aimed at Gallagher

It is the second time this season that a Chelsea player has been subjected to abuse on social media, after captain Reece James spoke out earlier this year about unfair criticism he had received when he was ruled out with injury.

Pochettino has spoken out previously about the impact of online attacks against players, and re-emphasised the urgency in ridding the game of the problem.

“The problem with social media today it is like a compulsory thing if you want to communicate with your fans and it is something that measures your value, depending on the followers you have on Twitter, X, Instagram, Facebook, I don’t know.

“These type of platforms that put you in a value in front of society, That is the problem because we are seeing so many things that are wrong in society.

“We are a little bit responsible also. We open the door, all the documentaries that people can see. But what do we want to see? We want to see when they are discussing, when you are fighting but never things that are good, happy things. No, find the wrong things.

“That is the society that we are all involved and we can blame no one. We need to accept it is like this but be very careful in the way that we behave and of course to pay more attention to these type of things that can damage your image, and the people can see you in a way that you are not real. Even when we want cheat the people.

“If I want to be popular, I can talk in a different way or I can do things with your complicity, ‘oh, looks good Pochettino, no?’ But when the day ends, when I close this door, I am the same or behave different? Here I am always smiling but there I am the worst guy in the world.”



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