Referee Robert Hicks speaks out against online trolls

Photo courtesy of Richard Long

“You wouldn’t go up to somebody in the street and abuse them, so why should you do it on social media?”

Leading rugby league referee Robert Hicks says he is open to being criticised for his profession – but he isn’t open to being abused.

The Saddleworth-based official recently met a Warrington supporter who sent him death threats via social media, with a suspended banning order being the punishment for the fan.

Hicks appeared on ITV’s Granada Reports on Tuesday evening, he commented: “There’s nothing wrong with criticism and everyone has to be open to criticism, because we’re in a decision-making industry.

“And we’re in an industry that’s full of passion and where people have a coloured view of what’s going on in that game and that’s based on their perception.

“But that doesn’t give them the right that everyone can be abused when they go to work or even in the street.

“You wouldn’t go up to somebody in the street and abuse them, so why should you do it on social media?”

Footballer Paul Pogba received racial abuse online following Manchester United’s 1-1 draw with Wolves on Monday.

And Hicks emphasised that self-policing is the way forward.

He added: “Sometimes we go backwards to go forwards and the incident last night [involving Paul Pogba] is just another example of something where if it had happened on the terraces, I think people would have self-policed it and reported it.

“But now we get people who go out there and think it’s only on social media, it’s only the internet.”


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