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Chris Kendall opens up on the impact of social media abuse

Who would be a referee? In all sports, not just Super League, referees are some of the most criticised figures. Yet they are utterly essential to the game. Chris Kendall is one of the most experienced and most targeted referees in Rugby League in the UK.

Kendall recently took charge of his 200th game as a Super League referee, when he stepped out into the middle for the Leeds Rhinos versus Catalans Dragons fixture at AMT Headingley. Kendall is only the 10th person to reach 200 games in the middle, with his current colleague, Ben Thaler, topping the list, with 437 Super League games officiated.

Kendall took charge of the Challenge Cup final earlier this month and, despite two early yellow cards, was generally praised for his performance in the game. However, Kendall, and his colleagues, are often subject to criticism on social media after contentious decisions.

Now, speaking on the State of Mind Sport podcast, Kendall has opened up on the impact of the abuse received on social media.

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Chris Kendall opens up on social media abuse

Super League Referee Chris Kendall at Wembley

Credit: Imago Images

Speaking to host, George Riley, Kendall discussed the impact that abuse received on social media has on his mental health. Whilst he admitted that the impact is reduced now that he has more experience, in his earlier career, it impacted him more than he allowed himself to believe at the time.

However, he is determined to remain an active user of social media platforms and should now bow to the pressure placed on him by “keyboard warriors”. Kendall explained:

“It doesn’t really bother me now. Now if you’d asked me that question when I first started refereeing Super League I’d have given you the stock answer and I’d have said ‘Oh no it doesn’t bother me’, but I think the reality is it probably did. It probably did.

“I am on social media, I have an account on Twitter and I enjoy being on that platform. Most of my news and current events and everything like that I get through social media. Now I have a sense of feeling that I shouldn’t be pushed off social media platforms I enjoy being on and enjoy being active on because of the actions of keyboard warriors.”

Kendall believes social media site is a “cesspit”

Super League Disciplinary

Credit: Imago Images

Kendall went on to discuss his beliefs on what sites such as X (formerly Twitter) should be used for. He described the site as a “cesspit” where people are too quick to use personal insults. But he does believe the site has a role to play in a healthy debate of the sport in general. Kendall stated:

“Twitter is a cesspit. It’s an awful platform to be on but I’m not too bothered what someone writes about me I don’t care about. I care about what my family think of me. I care about what my friends think of me and what my coaches think about me. That is the be all and end all.

“Twitter is sometimes not just talking about decisions, it can get quite personal. I think Twitter should be used and people should be able to air their opinions on certain decisions. I’ve got no issue with that. That’s what that platform should be for.

“It should be for having a debate, and, asking about decisions such as ‘Do you think that’s a red card?’ There are absolutely no issues with that, that’s what the platform should be used for but I think there’s a line and I won’t say it’s a thin line, I think it’s an obvious line that is often crossed week to week.”

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