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21st Jan 2020

Anton Ferdinand criticises PFA for ‘tick box’ approach to mental health

Wayne Farry

There’s more beneath the surface than many people think

Anton Ferdinand spoke candidly on this week’s Liquid Football regarding the death of his mother and how he never received a phone call or a text from the Professional Footballers’ Association to check on his mental wellbeing.
“This is the one and only time in my football career when football didn’t give me an out, and I honestly didn’t know how to deal with it at times; it put me into places I didn’t wish on anyone, you know, not having a release.’‘I was going on the pitch not caring about the result, not caring how I played,” he said.

Hearing fans jeer you and call out ‘Anton you’re finished, you’re shit’. You’re like, you don’t even know what I’m going through, or you do know what I am going through but you’re choosing not to acknowledge it.

“Fans and sometimes people watching football need to understand there might be a deeper issue as to why you are not playing well.

“As footballers the minute you leave your house, you’re working. You’re in the public domain, people want to chat to you, people want to ask you for a picture, people want to ask you for autographs, or they want to slag you off. So, you’re now working, you have to act in a certain way.  I just wanted to go home, where it wasn’t work no more, where if I needed to cry, I could cry.

“In terms of talking about mental health, the clubs and the dressing rooms are good, but I’ll tell you first-hand, I’ve never had a phone call from the PFA (or) the FA to ask me how I’ve been. And these are the people running the game,” said Ferdinand.

“Not once have I had a phone call or text from the PFA, which is the union for us footballers, who we pay every year, I’ve never had one phone call about it. But they want to do little things that tick a box to do with mental health – come on!

“They need to know what is going on… You’d see your union rep maybe twice a year; once at the start of the season to come and tell you the new rules and new things to do with social media, racism and betting. And the other one is to come and to do your team of the year and your player of the year…

“Do they really know what’s going on? Do they know what’s going on at the club, and what’s going on in the dressing room?

“They need to be more proactive, rather than react to things. But there is room for change. With Gordon Taylor looking like he’s stepping down and moving away from it, and someone else comes in – this is definitely a part that needs to be sorted out.”

Watch the full episode on YouTube or listen here: