The owner of an English Premier League team has defended a post from the club’s official Twitter account that led to online abuse being directed at football pundit Karen Carney.
Prior to Leeds beating West Brom 5-0 in a Premier League game on Tuesday, Carney said during Amazon Prime’s coverage of the match that last season’s coronavirus break had helped the side get promoted into the English football’s top flight.
Leeds responded by posting a clip of her punditry pointing out that the club had won English football’s second-tier division by 10 points alongside a puzzled emoji. The tweet also tagged Amazon Prime Video Sport and put a waving emoji next to it.
Support network Women in Football described the Leeds tweet as “inciteful and inappropriate,” while the post also provoked a backlash online with a number of high-profile figures criticizing Leeds for triggering a “pile-on” of abuse aimed at the former England women’s international team member, who made 144 appearances for her country.
Ex-Leeds and Manchester United player Rio Ferdinand called for it to be deleted whilst broadcast journalist Emma Sanders criticized the club for inviting abuse.
“This isn’t cool. Shouldn’t be outing pundits with a snapshot of their analysis,” she wrote on Twitter.
“Kaz [Carney] is one of the best around and always backs up her argument. This is just inviting unwarranted abuse on a platform which is already too toxic.”
Despite the fall-out, Leeds owner Andrea Radrizzani doubled down on the club’s post which has been retweeted more than 10,000 times.
“I take the responsibility of the club tweet,” he said on Twitter.
“I consider that [Carney’s] comment completely unnecessary and disrespectful to our club and particularly to the fantastic hard work of our players and coaches whom were understanding on the pitch for the last two championship seasons by all stats.”
Radrizzani was backed up by current star Mateusz Klich and former player Ben White who both mocked Carney’s comments with emojis on Twitter.
However, people pointed out the double standard in the way male and female pundits were often treated.
“Whether or not it’s a good point, about 100 different male pundits have said 100 different things about Leeds United and not one of them have been called out for it,” tweeted Amitai Winehouse, news editor at The Athletic.
CNN has reached out to Leeds for comment but has yet to receive a response.
Leeds manager Marcelo Bielsa is known for his high-intensity tactics which, in the past, have sometimes caused his teams to suffer burnout at the end of the season. The Championship season was halted on March 13, due to the coronavirus pandemic, before resuming on June 20.
Carney had credited Bielsa’s side for its performances this year but questioned whether the team could maintain it for the entire season.
“They (Leeds) out-run everyone and credit to them,” she said on Amazon Prime. “My only concern would be, ‘would they blow up at the end of the season?’”
“We saw that in the last couple of seasons and I actually think they got promoted because of Covid in terms of it gave them a bit of respite. I don’t know whether they would have gone up if they didn’t have that break.”
Whilst some agreed with Carney’s assessment, others used discriminatory language to discredit her.
Carney is yet to publicly speak about the incident, but subsequently deleted her Twitter account, which is no longer active.
CNN has reached out to Twitter for comment but is yet to receive a response.