Joao Sousa opens up about torrent of death threats, abuse, insults on social media from gamblers

Joao Sousa in action

Joao Sousa has become the latest tennis player to hit out at social media abuse as he revealed some of the vile messages he received recently following an early defeat in the ATP Girona Challenger.

The Portuguese player, a former world No 28 who has won four ATP Tour singles titles, was seeded seventh for the tournament in Spain, but he suffered a 2-6, 6-4, 4-6 defeat at the hands of alternate Mariano Navone from Argentina in the second round on Tuesday.

He was then hit with several disgraceful messages on social media and he shared some of them on Instagram Stories.

There were death threats, vulgar language, homophobic comments, accusations of match-fixing, some wishing him and his family harm, and just about every bad word under the son was used.

*Please note this social media post contains explicit language.

Social media abuse has been problematic for a long time with sports stars often targeted by gamblers who get abuse if they lose money online. Tennis great Novak Djokovic and several others have called on social media companies to do something about it, but it remains a major problem.

Sousa, who has slipped to No 156 in the ATP Rankings, decided to go public as says he has “become exhausted”.

“I would like to explain to everyone a reality that many people are unaware of, but unfortunately tennis professionals have to deal with it every week,” he wrote. “There have already been several professional colleagues who have exposed this problem and the vast majority of us have already learned to deal with it; however, this time I join them.

“I am exhausted from receiving messages from gamblers with threats, insults, provocations and little understanding of what it means to sacrifice to be a professional tennis player.

“Unfortunately, the world of betting, which has all my respect, has brought this not-so-good side and these people forget that the recipient of these messages, apart from being tennis professionals, we are above all HUMANS!

“Humans with feelings, emotions, days like everyone else, who deal with our own problems and give our best despite victory or defeat. I’m not asking you to follow me or like me, I simply demand RESPECT, thank you!”