Juventus manager Andrea Pirlo's son Niccolo has hit back at frustrated fans who have issued death threats against him on social media. Niccolo is Pirlo's eldest son from his relationship with former partner Deborah Roversi.
The 17-year-old took to his verified Instagram handle to share his thoughts on online harassment and bullying.
"I'm not a person who judges, I don't like doing it. Everyone has the right to be able to say what they want, I'm the first to do it and I would never want someone to take away my freedom of speech. My parents taught me to have thoughts and above all to listen to those of others," wrote Niccolo Pirlo.
"But I believe that there is a limit to everything and this limit has been exceeded for some time. I would like to ask you to put yourselves in my shoes for just a second and ask yourself how you would feel. I am 17 years old and every day I receive messages of this kind," continued Niccolo Pirlo.
Pirlo attached a screenshot which showed a direct message from one account that declared: "You must die together with your father.'' He also revealed that he receives such messages on a regular basis.
"This is not because I do something special but only because I am the son of a coach. This would be my 'fault' and is the reason why I receive messages wishing death upon me and various insults every day. I would like to ask you to put yourselves in my shoes for just a second and ask yourself how you would feel."
Niccolo Pirlo is currently at the Juventus academy but reports have suggested that this might change soon as he is on Paris Saint-Germain's radar.
Online abuse and hate, particularly on social media, has become a major cause for concern in the footballing world. Premier League clubs recently announced a planned social media boycott to highlight the need to do more to combat the issue.
Juventus' top-four hopes on the line in nail-biting finish to Serie A
Juventus started the campaign as favorites to win a 10th consecutive Scudetto crown. However, Andrea Pirlo has found the going tough in his debut season in football management. The Bianconeri have been inconsistent for most of this year's campaign. They even dropped out of the Serie A title race by the midway point of the season.
An embarrassing exit from the UEFA Champions League has further compounded Pirlo's woes at Juventus, leading to criticism from fans of the club.
This, however, should not give anybody the right to issue hateful comments against the manager or anyone associated with him. The relevant authorities must intensify efforts to deal with such incidents.