'Chosen for looks': Footballer lifts lid on vile messages from trolls

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·Sports Editor
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Gabriella Howell, pictured here on and off the football pitch.
Gabriella Howell has spoken out about some of the vile treatment she receives online. Image: Instagram

English footballer Gabriella Howell has exposed some of the vile messages she receives from online trolls who claim she's only picked in football teams because of her looks.

The 22-year-old started her professional career at Crystal Palace before moving to Carshalton and then Sutton United.

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But despite playing Division One for Sutton in the London & South East Regional Women’s League, critics question her abilities on the pitch.

Howell has taken to social media to highlight some of the cruel and disgusting messages she receives.

“That’s the trouble with women’s football, I think players are picked on looks rather than talent," one person wrote in reference to Howell.

The 22-year-old hit back: “You can be both - you can play football and like wearing high heels.”

She told The Mirror: “Men will say they’re h***y underneath my photos of me playing football - and if I tag my club in the post it’s embarrassing."

However Howell revealed she doesn't delete the hateful comments because she wants to draw negative attention to them.

“I like to keep them on my profiles and I don’t delete them," she said.

“Young girls think they want to be an influencer but they don’t see the downsides. I like to make people aware.

“Not everyone’s going to like you. I repeat that to myself when I see these comments.

“You’ve just got to develop a thick skin.”

Gabriella Howell's message to the haters

Posting on Instagram last week, Howell wrote: “As said many times, I do not want to compare women to men, I simply just want it to be anyone can play regardless gender, age, appearance etc.

“Daily I’m told that I’ve been chosen for looks over ability by people I don’t know and have never seen me play…WHY DOES IT MATTER HOW SOMEONE LOOKS?!?!

“I want to inspire the younger generation to not feel like this and that you can still feel feminine and play football‍️.

“I have amazing teammates and a great club that support me in this. Hopefully I can carry on inspiring.”

The midfielder has been playing football since she was eight years old.

She has helped Sutton top the table so far this season.

As well as building her reputation on the pitch, she has 165,000 followers on Instagram and 98,000 on TikTok.

Some of the videos she posts on TikTok have reached over one million views.

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