Andritany Ardhiyasa (1)

Andritany Ardhiyasa: "Players are having serious problems with social media abuse"

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Andritany Ardhiyasa (1)
Andritany Ardhiyasa

Andritany Ardhiyasa

Andritany Ardhiyasa is an Indonesian international goalkeeper, captain of Persija Jakarta, and president of player association APPI. The 31-year-old talks about his experiences of social media abuse and how the union is tackling the issue.

I have two social media accounts: one on Twitter and one on Instagram. I use Insta more often. I use it to be in touch with friends, athletes and other people.

Of course, I also do it to show people a little more of my job as a footballer. Many are interested in seeing what happens off the pitch. I have 903,000 followers on my Instagram account.

I post maybe once a week. Besides my job, I also post about my work for the association, APPI, communicating about campaigns and things like that.

What I like most is the positive spirit of the messages after our team wins and people congratulating us. Those comments motivate me to do even better the next game.

Andritany Ardhiyasa IG 1
Credit: Andritany Ardhiyasa

But when I lose, when my team loses, then I get negative comments.

Andri, f*** off. Andri, you are s***.

Sometimes these remarks hurt me. They make me sad because I did everything possible on the pitch.

I know that these are the consequences of playing professional football and I don’t mind if people criticise me. If the critique is correct, then I will accept it. But if they are insulting me, then it’s not okay.

One day someone made a very indecent comment about my wife. I could not accept that. It was inhuman and had nothing to do with football. I deleted the post on my Instagram and I made a new post demanding that the person who did this had to apologise within seven days, otherwise I would go to the police and file a complaint. In Indonesia, you can file a complaint for defamation when you are insulted on digital media.

So, I became the first player who filed a complaint with the police about the abuse I received from someone on social media. Then the person reacted. He came to our office and he spoke with me, our general secretary Aji Hardika and our lawyer. He apologised to me and wrote a statement promising that he would never do this again.

My family and I forgive him. This is a valuable lesson for him. And the police decided to drop the case after he had apologised to me.

Andritany Ardhiyasa IG 2
Credit: Andritany Ardhiyasa

With our player association, we have prepared two campaigns to help players deal with social media abuse. We players are having serious problems with abuse. Sometimes we lose confidence on the pitch. We are afraid that if we lose or do something wrong, that we will receive all these negative comments.

I even noticed the effects it had on the performance of the national team. When we were playing a World Cup qualifier and we got a penalty, no-one wanted to take the penalty – everybody was afraid to fail, fearing the negative feedback they would receive. In the end, the captain took the penalty. He missed … and he got so many negative comments.

I talked about the social media abuse with various players. We don’t want to leave social media. We don’t want to lose to the haters. So, we decided that we should start a campaign to educate players.

“I became the first player who filed a complaint with the police about the abuse I received from someone on social media”

— by Andritany Ardhiyasa

We are launching two campaigns. The first one, which will be funded by FIFPRO’s Capacity Building and Development Fund, deals with the mental health of players. We want to help players who are affected mentally by all the criticism and insults they receive. For example, how do you react when you receive abuse? How can you write a comment without making the situation worse? We will need this, because we cannot play well all the time. Sometimes we win, sometimes we lose. Football is a game, after all.

The other campaign is about making fans aware of how to behave on social media and to limit hate speech. We want to make use of our country’s regulations, which sanctions people if they write bad things or insult other people on social media. One of the penalties is a prison sentence.

Part of this campaign, which we are running together with the badminton and basketball players in our country, is that we want to make players aware that they can go to the police to protect themselves, just like I did. We, APPI, signed an agreement with the cyber department of the police, who will immediately process any report of a similar offence. The police can track these people, even if they have an anonymous account.

I hope that these campaigns can help protect the players and educate our supporters. Hopefully this will have a positive impact on the performances of our players, including our national team.