Former Ireland flanker Alan Quinlan has slammed the “toxic culture” on social media following the news that referee Wayne Barnes received death threats.
Barnes was in the middle for the World Cup Final between the Springboks and All Blacks, and it’s since emerged that online threats were made to the official.
His wife, Polly, said she would not miss the global tournament or the “death threats”, and Quinlan followed up on this and spoke of his disgust of such acts.
“It is shocking, really. There is a toxic culture, particularly on social media,” he said whilst speaking on Off The Ball as he worried for the future of referees.
“People have the ability now to comment during the live action and say nasty things about people, and they’re not brought to task.
“It’s the same with racist comments. Who would want to be a referee at the top level now?
“It’s very hard to ignore these comments.”
"Who would want to continue in that situation if you're family are getting that kind of abuse?"
— Off The Ball (@offtheball) November 3, 2023
Quinlan, who is a Munster and Ireland legend, added that in his day, there was only Sunday newspapers that would possibly criticise a player or match official.
However, attacks are now immediate and from all quarters as it’s sometimes unavoidable and something that he thinks brings out the “nasty” side of people.
“When I played, and you had a bad performance at the weekend, the talk would be, ‘don’t pick up the papers on Sunday’,” said the former international back-row.
“That’s probably much easier to do than not find or absorb some of the social media stuff. There is a very toxic, nasty element to the comments and the critique of referees.”
He continued: “They’re not beyond being criticised; there needs to be a little bit of accountability and sometimes holding your hands.
“It’s a tough job. Wayne Barnes has had a remarkable career; he’s always very amenable to have a chat with, but who would want to continue in that situation if your family was getting that kind of abuse? I think it’s wrong.”