Albion Rovers forward David Cox announced he was leaving professional soccer after he was allegedly taunted by an opponent about his mental health

By Jason Duaine Hahn
April 30, 2021 04:39 PM
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David Cox
Credit: Facebook

David Cox, a soccer player with Scotland's Albion Rovers F.C., announced in a video this week that he is leaving the sport after accusing an opponent of mocking his mental health struggles.

The alleged incident happened during Thursday's game between the Rovers and Stenhousemuir F.C., according to The Athletic. Stenhousemuir defender Jonathan Tiffoney and Cox were involved in a verbal altercation just before halftime, the outlet reported, which led to Cox leaving the stadium before the conclusion of the game.

In a Facebook Live video that appears to have been deleted (but has been reposted elsewhere), Cox said he had previously been taunted by players for his struggles with anxiety and depression, and promised himself he would leave the sport the next time it happened.

"Again having to deal with some mental health shouts at football again," said Cox, who previously told Sky Sports he had considered suicide in the past. "The second half is just starting and I have left the stadium. I was on the bench. We were having a to and fro with the bench. They had a go at my mental health and told me I 'should have done it right the first time.' "

"I promised myself the next time it happens I will walk off the park," Cox continued. "I wasn't playing, I am done with football completely. Some folk might not think it is a big deal but I am fed up for it. I don't get paid enough."

In the video, Cox said he tried to speak with referees about the alleged comments but was unsatisfied with their response.

"I tried to speak to the referees about it but they didn't want to know because they didn't hear it," he said in the video. "We talk about racism, personal issues and because it is not heard by officials there is nothing they can do about it. So I am going to do something about it."

"I am leaving the game. I am done with it," he added.

Tiffoney called the allegations "simply untrue" and claimed he was the one subjected to "abuse and disparaging comments" from the Rovers' dugout.

"I did not abuse him," Tiffoney said through a statement sent by his lawyers to The Herald. "His abuse of me took place in front of the linesman. Had I made the comment, which it has been said that I made, then it is inconceivable that it would have not been heard by the linesman."

"Having been personally subjected to disparaging and hurtful remarks as a player for many years, I condemn any such practice," he added. "I would never attack another player's mental health or wellbeing and will fully cooperate with the Scottish FA investigation into this matter."

In a statement post to Twitter, the Rovers expressed their support for Cox and said all players would have walked off the field in solidarity if they had known of the comments made toward him.

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"This was not a 'throwaway' remark," the team said. "David has been subjected to abuse numerous times throughout his career. If the team were aware of what was said before restarting after HT, they all agreed they would have walked off the park."

"We stand with David Cox," they continued. "The unforgivable incident that occurred during tonight's match must not be downplayed. David, you have all at Albion Rovers and Scottish football's unconditional support."

On Friday, Stenhousemuir confirmed they had asked the Scottish FA Compliance Officer to investigate the incident and Tiffoney has taken a leave of absence from the team until it's concluded.

Back Onside, a U.K.-based mental health-focused non-profit, said Cox "is upset, angry and overwhelmed" by the incident but is thankful for those who have reached out to him.

"He is now taking time to process everything and spend time with his family whilst he looks after his Mental Health," they said, "as this is the most important thing right now."

If you or someone you know is considering suicide, please contact the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline at 1-800-273-TALK (8255), text "STRENGTH" to the Crisis Text Line at 741-741 or go to suicidepreventionlifeline.org.