Almost 10% of Premier League and EFL players have experienced bullying; had suicidal thoughts

Up to 10 per cent of Premier League and EFL players surveyed by the Professional Footballers’ Association last season say they have experienced bullying during their career and almost 5 per cent have had suicidal thoughts, PA News revealed.

PFA released wellbeing data released at the highlights of World Mental Health Day. It highlighted the social and psychological challenges faced by current and former professionals and how the union is helping its members.

Seventy-nine of 843 male players in the EFL and Premier League surveyed last season said they had been bullied at some point in their professional lives and 40 said they had considered bullying in the three months leading up to the end of professional life take your own life poll.

dr Michael Bennett, director of player health at the PFA, said of the bullying statistics: “These are strong numbers that illustrate how serious these problems are in the game. Based on that feedback, we’ve adjusted this season’s sessions to learn more about the type of bullying players face.”

The survey found that 189 of the 843 players – more than a fifth – experienced severe anxiety, to the point of feeling scared or that something terrible was about to happen. (Photo: Getty Images/Thinkstock)

“It can be peer-on-peer bullying, for example by fellow players in the locker room or on the training ground. This can be done by club staff or management. We are particularly concerned about transfer windows. We know players can become isolated from their squads when a club tries to force a move. We often have to deal with such cases. Ultimately, it is a player’s workplace, whether it’s the training ground or the stadium on a match day. You have the right to feel protected and safe at work.”

Twelve percent of players (98) said they felt pressured to get vaccinated against Covid-19 or felt emotionally distressed about it. Data was collected at wellness workshops held at clubs throughout the 2021-22 campaign.

It found that 189 of the 843 players – more than a fifth – experienced severe anxiety, to the point of feeling scared or that something terrible was about to happen.

dr Bennett said: “Players are often subject to short-term focus and factors beyond their control, such as injuries, transfer policies and team selection. All of which can have a dramatic impact on their long-term careers. We host wellness workshops at clubs with players of all ages, from academy to first team. These sessions are essential to creating a safe place to talk about mental health.”

According to the PFA, 520 members sought advice or support services through Sporting Chance last season. 47% were current players, 48% were former players and 5% were family members of players whom the union had agreed to support. Nine percent of the 520 were female players, of which 86% were current players.



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