#WebSummit2021: Thierry Henry Launches Platform to Tackle Online Bullying

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Thierry Henry today announced a partnership with sports brand PUMA to create a platform and campaign that will highlight online hate crime and encourage people to do good by taking on tasks to fight against online abuse. The not-for-profit platform is called ‘The Game of our Lives’ (GOL) and tasks will include actions such as petitions and protests.

Thierry Henry, a former striker for Arsenal and France, took to the stage at Web Summit in Lisbon, Portugal, to talk about the online hate that led to him disabling his social media accounts in March 2021. “We need to come together to make the platforms accountable for what is happening on their platforms.” Modestly, Henry said, “I am nobody on my own. I may be the captain [of GOL], but we need lots of captains. That’s something football taught me,” he shared.

Henry was not shy about attributing blame to social media platforms, which he insists are “doing nowhere near enough to tackle online abuse,” and “generate money from hate. When they want to do something, they do it,” he said. “They have an algorithm when it has an impact on their pockets. It’s about willingness.” Clearly, Henry stated that social media platforms could do something about it, but they are unwilling.

However, he told Infosecurity Magazine’s editor, Eleanor Dallaway, that accountability for creating a safer, kinder online space is on “all of us. It is about us being positive and helping each other. Ask yourself, what are we going to do? There’s no more time for negativity.”

“We have to make an impact,” he continued, “to help people to heal.”

"We need to come together to make the platforms accountable for what is happening on their platforms"Thierry Henry

Dylan Ingham, a co-founder of Game of our Lives, describes the platform as a “toolbox of social action. The first task is self-learn. Look at yourself before you start to judge others. It’s not about pointing the finger at the latest villain. It’s about all of us collectively holding each other accountable.”

Henry explained that the issue of online hate goes beyond racism. “The problem I have is that sometimes when I do interviews and people see the color of my skin, they assume I’m only talking about racism.” Henry’s passion for making a difference and stamping out online hate does not discriminate. It’s about the broader issue of online hate, affecting so many minorities and groups.

The goal of The Game of our Lives is to “establish a place where people can come together to turn intention into action.” Adam Petrick, global director of brand and marketing at Puma, shares the project’s objectives – 50 clubs on board and 30 million users. The initiative’s focus will be on prevention, healing and justice.

Henry did acknowledge that there is a lot more awareness and action in The Premier League now compared to what “there was in my time. But still, it could and should be more. The way the football world is moving, though, I can’t complain about that.”

Both Henry and Petrick were keen to present the message that “you should not be stopped by online hate. We want everyone to feel like they belong. The message is not ‘don’t become a footballer’. It’s more ‘don’t get on social media.’”

“The long-term goal is getting rid of online hate, and as a collective we can get there faster,” concluded Henry.

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