Leeds have said they “completely condemn” the online abuse of football pundit Karen Carney after she claimed the club were only promoted to the Premier League “because of Covid”.
The former England international’s comments, made during Amazon Prime Sport’s coverage of Leeds’ 5-0 win at West Brom on Tuesday, were retweeted by Leeds, prompting an angry response from some fans.
A Leeds statement read: “Leeds United completely condemns any abuse received by Karen Carney on social media following last night’s Premier League game with West Bromwich Albion.
“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.”
Leeds have often responded to criticism from pundits by mocking them on social media and owner Andrea Radrizzani defended the club’s tweet criticising Carney’s comments.
Carney, who won 144 England caps, said that Marcelo Bielsa’s side benefited from the coronavirus break in March to win the Sky Bet Championship title.
But while Radrizzani claimed her comments were disrespectful on Wednesday morning, the club have grown concerned at the level of abuse Carney has received.
Carney said after Leeds’ win at The Hawthorns: “They (Leeds) outrun everyone and credit to them. My only concern would be, would they blow up at the end of the season?
“We saw that in the last couple of seasons and I actually think they got promoted because of Covid, in terms of it gave them a bit of respite.
“I don’t know whether they would have gone up if they didn’t have that break.”
Leeds responded on Twitter by poking fun at Carney’s comments, provoking a backlash from some fans who felt that it would encourage online abuse to be directed at her.
Radrizzani, replying to a tweet which said Leeds should be “ashamed” of their actions, wrote: “I take the responsibility of the club tweet.
“I consider that comment (from Carney) completely unnecessary and disrespectful to our club and particularly to the fantastic hard work of our players and coaches whom were understanding on the pitch for the last two Championship seasons by all stats.”
Radrizzani was supported by Brighton defender Ben White, who was an ever-present on loan at Leeds last season when Bielsa’s side claimed 93 points from 46 games to finish 10 points clear of second-placed West Brom.
White posted three face with tears emojis and current Leeds player Mateusz Klich also used emojis to show disgust at Carney’s comments.
But Women in Football said Leeds’ tweet was “inciteful” and former Leeds defender Rio Ferdinand responded to a tweet criticising the Yorkshire club, which had said it was a “disgrace” and that it was “trying to embarrass a hard working pundit who will now be subject to vile abuse from LUFC fans”.
Ferdinand told his 10.8million Twitter followers: “Agree… delete tweet!”
Leeds’ thrashing of West Brom lifted them to 11th in the Premier League with 23 points from 16 games.