"They hope I die of COVID" - Bruce opens up on online abuse

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Newcastle United manager Steve Bruce has become the latest high-profile football figure to call for stricter controls on social media. 

The 60-year old revealed that messages sent to his son Alex wished a COVID-related death upon him.

Bruce has regularly come in for criticism for his performance as Newcastle manager, but the former Manchester United player believes a line is being crossed far too often.

Several black footballers have highlighted the issue of online racist abuse in recent weeks, such as Manchester United trio Marcus Rashford, Axel Tuanzebe and Anthony Martial.

This week has also seen Mike Dean step down from refereeing duty in the Premier League after he received death threats online.

"I just know that in conversations I've had with with my family over the last few days, when we've been talking about the Mike Dean situation, it was brought to my attention that I've had it too," Bruce told reporters on Thursday.

"It's really horrible stuff, which I couldn't really get my breath with. Things like someone saying they hope I die of Covid and all of this.

"It's absolutely vile and obscene. It has to be stopped.

"These big companies should start policing it better than they are doing, that's for sure."

Bruce himself does not have any social media profiles, but knows he too has been the subject of death threats.

"I don't go on it but of, course, people close to me do and they are sensitive towards their father and yes [there have been death threats]," he said. "Yep, I've had that to deal with.

"We've got to police it better because there are some vulnerable people out there. When I see the nature of some of it, it's totally and utterly vile.

"Some of the stuff that I've had has been obscene and it fuels a hatred.

"Something has to be done. When i see an experienced referee - whatever you might think of Mike Dean -  nobody deserves that.

"He gets a decision wrong and it was in the last 30-seconds of the game and nothing really hinged on it but he feels the need to have to step down this weekend.

"For everybody, these big companies have got to police it better and find out who these idiots and morons are who send this vile abuse and make them be punished."

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