England's Lucy Bronze: Misogynistic abuse hurts more than injury

England defender Lucy Bronze has revealed she has been brought to tears by misogynistic abuse.

Ahead of England's opening Euro 2022 game against Austria on Wednesday, Bronze said: "I don't cry over injuries. Misogynistic comments affect me more than football comments. I know when I've had a good game, when I've had a bad game. I might agree with you that I've been rubbish today so fair enough. But misogyny is something that angers me to my core -- even if it's not aimed at me.

"To be held back or treated differently because you are a woman is extra frustrating and upsetting.

"You're judging me because I'm a woman. Football has always been a male-dominated sport and there is pressure in the media for women to act a certain way. You're expected to be extra polite or extra nice. We should all be polite, but we should also be ourselves on the pitch and off the pitch."

Bronze, who recently joined Barcelona on a free transfer from Manchester City, said the standards are different for men and women in football, and women are criticsed for being "emotional" and are left in a "vicious circle" where they second guess how their reactions will be perceived.

Bronze, 30, said: "When women are told, 'Don't be so emotional'. It's passion. I am not emotional because I am a woman, I am emotional because I am passionate about football and want to win. I've watched games with Lionel Messi and Cristiano Ronaldo, and their reactions are put down to how much it means to them. When a woman does it, it has negative connotations.

"I want to be me and known for being me. But there have been moments when I've thought: 'I'm going to get a lot of stick for this'. That shouldn't be your first thought when you are playing the game you love.

"When you make a bad cross, you'll be thinking, 'People will say women can't play football' but why should that cross your mind? Why do people want to dig out all these little things and connect them to women's football. No. I just did a bad cross.

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Bronze who won the FIFA Best Women's Player of the Year in 2020 and a three-time Champions League winner with Lyon, is part of Hope United -- an initiative led by England men's manager Gareth Southgate to help stamp out abuse in football.

Bronze says she has a thick skin and is fortunate to be surrounded by strong-minded women in her family, but it's "easier said than done."

"Of the players I have played with I am probably one of the most mentally strong, but I can tell you I have had days where I have cried into a pillow, doubted myself, been affected on and off the pitch. I have had as many bad days as any player but just don't open up about it. My mum always said, 'Never let the bullies see that they are bothering you'.

"I want to show people I am a strong woman and I have thick skin, and that stupid comments are not worth my time. But it's easier said than done, I guess.

She added that as women's football grows in popularity in the UK, it increases the likelihood for abuse and unfair scrutiny on players.

"People want to pull the game apart even more. The bigger the game gets, the more abuse it gets.

"Every movement, whether it's on or off the pitch will be analysed ... There's a lot hanging on the tournament, it's about the future of the game. There will be ups and downs along the way."

England face Austria in Group A on Wednesday.