'Some people are just racist and they just find every opportunity to be racist' - West Ham defender Hawa Cissoko opens on social media abuse she suffered last season

Hawa Cissoko West Ham 2022-23Getty

The France international was bombarded with hate speech on social media in October last year after a controversial incident during a Women's Super League clash against Aston Villa.

Cissoko got into a clash with Villa's Sarah Mayling and it ended with the former striking her opponent and being sent off.

The 26-year-old admits she was not prepared for the onslaught of hateful messages she would receive, but found a way to soften the blow.

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“It’s not that I thought the men were lying or that it wasn’t happening to them, but it never happens in women’s football, or maybe if it did then the women were quiet [and didn’t make it public],” Cissoko told The Guardian.

“I didn’t expect it would happen to me, especially when the people that did it don’t even watch our games. If it was from people who follow the league, I would understand a little bit more, but when it was from not even French or English people I was like: ‘You should focus on your own business.’ I realised: 'OK, some people are just racist and they just find every opportunity to be racist and say whatever they want.'

“When I understood this, it was easier to deal with, because at the beginning you take things personally, you think they don’t like you when they see you every week – ‘They hate me’ – but when I realised it was outside of WSL fans I thought: ‘I don’t care'.”

While Cissoko says she can simply ignore the hate, saying: "If I turn off my phone, they don’t exist", the defender believes social media companies should do much more to combat the issue.

"I know that some people send messages because they know that nothing is going to happen even if you tell them you’re going to the police,” she added. “They know nothing will happen. We need more security … I don’t know how they can do it.”