BT HOPE UNITED manager RIO FERDINAND chats to MATCH about the campaign and stopping social media abuse!

What’s Hope United all about?

RIO SAYS: “Hope United is a group of footballers – I’m obviously the manager – from the Home Nations, both males and females. We’ve come together to help the nation with digital skills!”

What are your goals?

RIO SAYS: “There’s a lot of negativity and hate online, and we’re trying to help the nation recognise what hate crime is, how to be good digital citizens but also educating kids on social media on how they use it for good!”

What can you do if you’re a victim of cyber bullying?

RIO SAYS: “If you’re being bullied on a daily basis. and you’re just taking it in, that’s a really dangerous place to be. You’ve got to communicate it with the people in your environment, or just your group of friends. Speak about it, don’t be embarrassed. More often than not, when you do speak about it, most people have been through similar things. Listening to people and their experiences are key.”

And what do you say to those giving out abuse?

RIO SAYS: “Sit down and think about what you’re doing. Do you really want to be that person who’s being abusive online and making peoples’ lives a misery? Do you want to be someone who in the end is going to be hated and not liked? And do you understand the effects of what you’re doing on people? The effects are huge, and sometimes people don’t take that into consideration.”

Tell us about the name, ‘Hope United’…

RIO SAYS: “We want to give people hope that there is way out of situations like this! People that get into situations where they don’t see a way out, they don’t see hope. We’d like to think that the name of this club is one of hope!”

Are you a fan of the kit?

RIO SAYS: “I love the kit! It’s one that will stand out from the crowd as well. You know exactly what it means when you see the kit. You can’t have a kit for a situation like this that’s plain and run-of-the-mill! I’ve got a tracksuit top that was given to me as well – obviously I’ve got to be a bit different from the team (as manager)!”

Why did you want to be the manager?

RIO SAYS: “I think experiences I’ve had and what I’ve seen other people go through. Also, I’ve got kids so this is almost an education for me as well, because we’ve got to look at things and understand what we’re doing. It’s a win for everyone involved, because you’re helping others but also helping yourself as well, which is great!”

What are some experiences you’ve had?

RIO SAYS: “Obviously when you play for a team like Man. United, there’s other teams that don’t like you, so there’s hate from other clubs. You sit there and think sometimes, ‘Wow, you’re taking time out of your day just to say stuff like this to me?’ A way of dealing with it is to turn off the notifications and don’t feel the need to look at the replies all the time.”

How important is it for footballers to be role models?

RIO SAYS: “Social media has given players a bigger voice and platform to speak – they’re more influential now than ever! You look at what Marcus Rashford’s doing, Jesse Lingard, Jordan Henderson – these guys are speaking out on issues that in years gone by, people have maybe stayed silent on because they didn’t have a platform.”

Following the launch of Hope United, a squad of footballers who have come together from across the Home Nations to tackle online hate, BT has today unveiled The Pledge, which will allow the public to show their support in the fight against social media abuse during the UEFA European Championships.

BT’s Hope United Pledge will allow you to show your support for the fight against online hate this summer. Visit bt.com/hopeunited to find out more and share the Hope United Pledge on social media. Together we can beat online hate.