Tayla Harris: Online abusers cowardly grubs, says Australian prime minister

Tayla Harris
"Here's a pic of me at work... think about this before your derogatory comments, animals," Harris posted under this picture on Twitter.

Tayla Harris hopes the support she has received following abuse online will make trolls think twice, as Australia's prime minister Scott Morrison labelled the abusers "cowardly grubs".

Australian rules footballer Harris was targeted with derogatory comments underneath a picture of her playing for the Carlton Blues on social media.

But the 21-year-old said she would not be involving the police.

"The support that has come from this has been phenomenal," said Harris.

"I think that has shut down anyone who would have made a comment. I hope they'd be thinking 'I've mucked up here' and hopefully they won't do it again.

"I'm fine with people commenting on and critiquing my football, but it's the comments that are severely inappropriate, comments that my family will read."

A number of Australian sportswomen supported Harris, including Carlton team-mate Darcy Vescio, former world champion netballer-turned-AFL player Sharni Layton and former Olympic cycling champion Anna Meares.

Prime minister Morrison said of the abusers on Thursday: "I think they're grubs. I think they're cowardly grubs, who need to wake up to themselves.

"They're acting out some kind of hatred in a way that lessens them as people. We should give them no quarter and we should treat them as the grubs they are."

The controversy has also raised the issue of how media companies moderate comments after Channel Seven deleted the picture in an effort to combat the trolling. The company reposted the photo after a backlash.

Seven, an AFL broadcast partner, apologised to Harris, saying the decision to remove the image from its Facebook and Twitter accounts "sent the wrong message", after initially defending the move.

The broadcaster says its intention was to "highlight" Harris' "incredible athleticism" and that they will "continue to celebrate women's footy".

The AFL's chief executive Gillon McLachlan called the abuse "unacceptable" but said the fault does not rest entirely on Channel Seven, given the challenges of moderating social media comments.

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