Jonny Gould

I was targeted as colleagues stayed silent

Jonny Gould speaks out about alleged abuse from identifiable Aston Villa supporters

May 06, 2021 11:50

This is a sad, disturbing tale of how easy it is for a minority to be hounded out of civic life, if colleagues just look on.

English football has just emerged from a social media boycott protesting online abuse.

As the silence began, the Aston Villa Supporters’ Trust announced my resignation with another Jewish director, Nigel Canin. Simon Goodyear joined us.

We had quit over the Trust’s own public silence over escalating abuse. All of it targeting me.

I don’t belong with anyone pondering whether the abuse may have a point. It made me reflect on whether my decades of support for Villa was rather misplaced.

In only our last board meeting, we’d adopted the IHRA working definitions of antisemitism. Then, 27,000 hateful replies avalanched Villa’s Passover message.

I spoke out. The JC made made the Villa Passover Facebook pile-on front page. The pile-ons and retweets magnified the hate, each an attempt to reduce me.

And so it went on. The echo chamber created a grotesque, imaginary “Jonny Gould”.

The Trust finally acknowledged my resignation after being contacted by the JC.

Not all the online bullying and delegitimisation from Villa fans was just for the sheer hell of it. Several of those who attacked me on Twitter clearly had a political agenda.

Keep in mind that the Trust is supposed to be focused on charity and community work.

My own social media boycott has been blunted by fresh slanders and this article will doubtless trigger more abuse.

At its best, the Trust raises money for local communities, addresses fan concerns with the club and holds an AGM, which hosts Villa’s CEO and star players from the glory years.

The next is on 20 May.

They have a chance to reset what they’re for, if not for themselves, to paraphrase Hillel.

Football declaring No Room For Racism must also mean no room for antisemitic dogwhistles from abusers who stay under the radar of specific racism.

Football must confront this because, sadly, it now firmly competes for attention with the beautiful game.

And to do that, they must disengage from the divisive mantras about “inclusion”. It’s disastrous.


Jonny Gould is a former director of the Aston Villa Supporters’ Trust

May 06, 2021 11:50

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