Football is both the beautiful and cruel game. The other day, we covered Max Taylor‘s miraculous comeback from the lowest of lows. However sadly today, we’re writing about a heartbreaking tragedy. Benik Afobe confirmed on Instagram that his 2 year old daughter Amora had sadly passed away on Friday evening. The thoughts and condolences of all of us at Taste of Football are with the Afobe family at such a difficult time.
I can’t possibly begin to imagine the pain Benik and his family must be feeling. At such a young age too, it’s heartbreaking to read. The pressures of daily life are enough for a professional footballer as well as their family. But then something as awful as this happens unexpectedly. Life just isn’t fair.
This tragic passing just shows that regardless of how much money footballers are making a week, how great their lifestyle looks, how different they seem to be, they are human at the end of the day. I feel as fans of such an incredible sport that brings us all together, we need to appreciate footballers more. But also, perhaps be more considerate to them.
Our football community as much as it can unite us, is also a culprit of being toxic. The modern day demands placed on professional footballers by fans can be so gruelling and inevitably lead to burnout. Then the barrage of abuse they would subsequently receive on social media for a below par performance, it’s horrific. At the end of the day, these select number of people in a world with a population of billions of people, deserve more credit for what they do.
I don’t think we acknowledge how much these footballers go through in their careers. Working at 110% week in week out to be physically fit for the games where they then have to perform at the highest level. The stress, pressure and burden on them must be immense. Ultimately, they’re doing this because they want to provide their families with comfortable and prosperous lives for generations beyond. Of course they love the sport and the fans, but we as spectators, need to look beyond the pay cheques and what happens on the pitch. They’re not robots who can perform at the optimal level every week without fail. Footballers have feelings, feel tired, go through pain, struggle, make sacrifices. It’s a job at the end of the day and it comes with the pressures of what any other job comes with.
You might be asking why this has anything to do with Benik Afobe’s devastating loss. It’s because of the issue of mental health. At the moment, support is pouring out for Amora and Benik’s family with the news just breaking out. But give it a couple of months, some of the same community online will be abusing him for a poor peformance, making horrific jokes about his daughter and making his life living hell. Unfortunately, that’s the world we live in on Twitter. It’s sickening, toxic and beyond comprehension why another person with a family would attack someone in such a way. I’m referring to a minority online of course, but their actions always seem to be louder than the majority of people genuinely feeling hurt by such awful news.
Luis Enrique’s young daughter Xana passed away earlier this year at just 9 years old. Danny Rose spoke about the mental health issues he went through. Dozens of black players have been racially abused at games and online just because of the colour of their skin. They are human too which for some reason, doesn’t go through to some people. There’s such little action being taken against online abuse by governing bodies of the game, or the owners of these social media platforms. Only now, mental health is being spoken about more often. But nowhere near enough.
This has to change. Even if it’s a minority of people, we have no idea about how much they’re affecting the mental health of, at the end of the day, people we look up to. At one point, everyone’s had the dream of being a professional footballer and people like Benik Afobe are living it. Something we should praise rather than envy.
So by the off chance anyone reads this article who has previously abused anyone, let alone a footballer online, please think about how you’d feel if someone did the same to you. Footballers deserve the wages they get with everything they have to go through physically, mentally, socially and now with the digital world. It’s disgusting how little attention issues like this get.
A different style of article to what we normally write. However, I felt it was important that we brought to light the importance of an issue as sensitive as mental health alongside paying our condolences to Benik Afobe and his family. Rest in peace Amora.