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David Martindale: Livingston have psychologist to help players deal with abuse

David Martindale file photo
(Image credit: Jane Barlow)

Livingston manager David Martindale has revealed the club employ a psychologist to help players deal with worsening abuse on social media.

Livi have joined a collective boycott of social media from Friday afternoon to Monday night in a bid to force action over online hate.

Skipper Marvin Bartley revealed on Thursday that he had been subjected to racist abuse on social media in the past few weeks. His club reported a racial slur and abuse directed towards Bartley which were posted on their Instagram account, but the organisation replied to say that the user’s account had not violated its code of conduct.

However, Martindale believes the social media problem spreads much further than the worst discriminatory comments.

“Especially over lockdown, I think it has heightened the use of social media and people’s opinions on social media and I have seen the effects that’s had on my players,” he said.

“It’s not just racial abuse, it’s all kinds of abuse and it’s definitely something we have to try and eradicate. I don’t know how we do it but we have to start doing something to try.

“I choose not to go on social media and, when I do go on and I see something I don’t like, I don’t read it and I don’t let it get to me. But I have seen it affect young players in different ways.

“When you have a good game, younger players go on social media and get a pat on the back, it’s what they do. Come Monday morning that’s out the player’s head, he is not thinking about the positives he received from social media.

“But when he goes on after he has lost or had a bad game, there’s fans and people abusing him and putting negative comments out. I can hear the boys talking about it on Monday morning.

“I have seen it have an effect on individuals in training, I have seen it have an effect on players the following week. A negative comment on social media, especially abuse, has a longer-term impact on certain players.

“And I can just imagine racial abuse is even worse for someone to accept. Any kind of abuse is unacceptable.”

Speaking ahead of Saturday’s Scottish Premiership clash with Aberdeen, Martindale added: “We work with a psychologist at the club every week. There’s a cost element but I think it’s extremely important to look after the players’ well-being.

“The psychology side of football is probably a topic we don’t touch on from a coaching sense. Someone’s mental resilience or mental well-being, you don’t really talk about it as a club or as a coach.

“So we have someone who comes in now and helps the players with their mental resilience, their confidence, having a growth mindset.”

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