Soccer-Leeds condemn online abuse of pundit after COVID comment

FILE PHOTO: Soccer Football - Championship Play-Off Semi Final First Leg - Derby County v Leeds United - Pride Park, Derby, Britain - May 11, 2019 Leeds United chairman Andrea Radrizzani looks on from the stands Action Images via Reuters/Craig Brough

(Reuters) -Leeds United condemned online abuse of former England women's international Karen Carney on Wednesday after the Premier League club's own Twitter account singled her out for a comment made as a television pundit.

Carney had suggested on Amazon Prime during Leeds' 5-0 win at West Bromwich Albion on Tuesday that last season's COVID-19 shutdown had helped Leeds secure promotion.

Leeds tweeted with emojis above a television clip of Carney speaking: "Promoted because of COVID. Won the league by 10 points."

The clip had 4.7 million views.

Club chairman Andrea Radrizzani defended the social media post and said Carney's comment had been "completely unnecessary and disrespectful" but Leeds issued a subsequent response on Wednesday.

"Leeds United completely condemns any abuse received by Karen Carney on social media following last night's Premier League game," the club, whose tweet was not taken down, said in a statement.

"Everyone at our club respects Karen greatly for all she has achieved in the game, as well as her work in the media and the charity work she undertakes."

The Women in Football group said the club's post-match tweet was "inciteful and hateful".

"Whether you agree with the comment or not, singling out and ridiculing an individual on an official club account is not what we're here for," it said on Twitter.

Carney had said Leeds ran the risk of losing steam at the end of last season because of their high-tempo style.

"They outrun everyone, and credit to them. My only concern would be, will they blow up at the end of the season like the last couple of seasons?" said Carney, who earned 144 England caps between 2005-2019.

"I actually think they got promoted because of COVID in terms of it giving them a bit of respite. I don't know if they'd have got up if they didn't have that break."

The 2019-20 Championship season resumed in June after a three-month hiatus due to the pandemic and Leeds went on to win with a tally of 93 points.

Leeds, 11th on 23 points from 16 games, are due to take on Tottenham Hotspur on Saturday.

(Reporting by Shrivathsa Sridhar in Bengaluru/Alan Baldwin; Editing by Peter Rutherford and Christian Radnedge)

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