Former Spurs footballer suffered depression from online abuse after racism case

Renee Hector has moved from Tottenham Hotspur to Charlton Athletic since the abusive incident (PA Images)
10:47am, Thu 15 Aug 2019
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Women's footballer Renee Hector has spoken out about the depression she suffered after her racism case against Sheffield United's Sophie Jones.

An independent Football Association regulatory commission found that the 24-year-old was subjected to monkey noises while playing for Tottenham during a match back in January.

And now she has come out and spoken of the abuse she subsequently received online and how that affected her.

In an interview with BBC Sport, Hector said: "The online abuse affected me really deeply, but it wasn't just me, it affected my family and really affected my mum.

"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.

"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."

Jones was given a five-game ban and fined £200 after being found guilty of the on-field racist abuse.

Raheem Sterling has been a key figure in highlighting the issue of racism in football over the past 12 months (PA Images)

And while Hector insists she feels 'no hatred' towards her, she believes the punishment is not severe enough and that more needs to be done.

"Players need to know they are going to be punished significantly and think twice about doing it because to some people a month out from playing matches isn't really that long.

"What I went through was difficult, but I'd say don't be scared in stepping forward because the more that people step forward, the more seriously racism will be taken.

"Take Raheem Sterling, for example. He's out there as a bit of an advocate to fight racism in football, but it shouldn't just be him.

Since the incident occured, the FA has increased its sanction for players racially abusing others to a six-game ban.