‘Get back to the kitchen’ - sexism towards female footballers is still rife, says former England star Sue Smith
Former Leeds and England winger Sue Smith has spoken about the online abuse she receives and her fears that other female footballers may be more severely affected.
The 40-year-old spent more than two decades playing for the Lionesses between 1997 and 2018, earning 93 caps for her country and scoring 16 goals.
She has now moved into a role as a pundit and has not played since leaving Doncaster Rovers Belles two years ago.
But she is still subjected to vile online abuse and admits the worst of them stick in her mind.
"We (women footballers) shouldn't have to have thick skin," she told Sky Sports.
"I don't mind if there's a discussion around football, but when you start getting comments based on how you look, your gender, the whole, 'get back to the kitchen'... it sounds like that can't actually still happen - it does. We still get those sort of comments when we're talking about football.
"I'm lucky that I've got a support group. I get messages online and I read them. You might get 10 really nice messages and one horrible one, and that's the one that you remember.
"I've got that support group to talk to and help me get over it. But you worry for the people that do have mental health issues. If they don't have anybody to talk to, what happens then?"