British woman mistaken for American footballer Dee Ford

Miss Dee Ford Image copyright Dee Ford
Image caption For around five years Dee Ford has been confused on Twitter with the Kansas City Chiefs linebacker

A British woman who shares her name with an American Footballer who cost his team a place in the Super Bowl has received an avalanche of online abuse.

For the last five years Dee Ford, 47, from Kent, has been confused with the Kansas City Chiefs linebacker.

The 27-year-old gave away a penalty this week, costing his team the match.

But Miss Ford laughed off the abuse, saying "it could be worse - at least I don't share my name with a British politician right now".

Image copyright Getty Images
Image caption Dee Ford does not use Twitter, so his fans and abusers end up tweeting Miss Ford

The chartered surveyor, from Gillingham, said the confusion began when Ford was playing for his college football team, the Auburn Tigers, in Alabama.

In 2014, Auburn University's athletics director Jay Jacobs tweeted Miss Ford accidently - sending her follower count skyrocketing.

He had not realised the player did not use Twitter.

Miss Ford's account quickly went from having just 20 followers to more than 5,000.

Image copyright TWITTER
Image caption Miss Ford's following soared overnight, after the misplaced tweet

But she said she has received some "vile" messages over the years filled with expletives and insults, particularly after the latest defeat.

She said: "Some say things like 'I hope your life is ruined', one even said it was my fault he couldn't afford to feed his children, because he lost money betting on the game the Chiefs didn't win.

"I know the comments aren't actually directed at me, but I do wonder why these people think it's ok to send these awful messages to anybody."

Miss Ford updated her profile years ago to make it clear she is not the athlete, but said every match still brings a "relentless" stream of comments.

Image copyright Dee Ford/Twitter
Image caption Some of the abuse Miss Ford receives

Given the attention, she decided to learn the rules of the US sport, and ended up falling in love with the game.

She now supports the Tigers, from her home about 4,400 miles away.

Miss Ford even met the player's family when the Chiefs played at Wembley three years ago, and spoke to her namesake briefly on the phone after the match.

"I've made so many great friends through this who I've met up with here, and also visited in the US when I went to watch an Auburn game in November," she added.

"I still get some nasty messages, but the best way to deal it is to just take the Mickey."

Image copyright Dee Ford
Image caption Miss Ford went to see an Auburn Tigers match in November

In 2010, a woman in the US made headlines after her account, @theashes, was deluged with messages about cricket.

Thousands of sports fans got in touch with Ashley Kerekes, mistakenly assuming her name was connected to the contest of the same name between England and Australia.

She initially knew nothing about cricket but was flown out to Sydney by an Australian airline to attend the fifth Ashes Test and found it to be "a really interesting sport".

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