More than half of the players who played in the last Euro 2020 and AFCON finals were attacked online before, during and after the match, according to studies of a shocking report published by FIFA and FIFPRO.
Homophobic abuse was the most common, followed by racism, and although world football’s governing body does not name names, Sky Sports News understands that the most abused players in the Euro 2020 final were Bukayo Saka of Arsenal and Marcus Rashford of Manchester United, who both missed the game. place as England lost to Italy on penalties at Wembley last July.
In both tournaments, most abuse came from the targeted players’ home countries – 38% from the UK and 19% from Egypt after they were also beaten on penalties by Senegal in the final CAN in February.
In response, FIFA and FIFPRO, the global representative body for professional footballers, announce that they will launch a moderation service dedicated to men’s and women’s football during this winter’s World Cup “which will analyze hate speech terms acknowledged posts on identified social media accounts, and once detected, block that comment from being seen by the recipient and their followers.”
FIFA President Gianni Infantino said: “Our duty is to protect football, and that starts with the players who bring us all so much joy and happiness through their exploits on the pitch.
“Unfortunately, there is a growing trend where a percentage of social media posts directed at players, coaches, match officials and the teams themselves is not acceptable, and this form of discrimination – like any form of discrimination – has no place in football.
Summary of report findings
- Over 55% of players in Euro 2020 and AFCON 2022 finals suffered some form of discriminatory abuse
- Homophobic slurs are the most common form of detected abuse, followed by racism
- Black players who missed penalties (England) were the most abused players in the Euro 2020 final / a substitute (Egypt) was the most abused player in the AFCON 2022 final
- The majority of the abuse came from the country of origin of the targeted players
- Club identity is a trigger for abuse. i.e. Liverpool players have been abused on Twitter by fans who support Liverpool’s Premier League rivals
“With the 2022 FIFA World Cup Qatar and the 2023 FIFA World Cup Australia and New Zealand on the horizon, FIFA and FIFPRO recognize the importance of taking a stand and including what is being watched on social media with what is already being watched in stadiums.
“We want our actions to speak louder than our words and that is why we are taking concrete steps to tackle the problem directly.”
Homophobic slurs were the most common form of detected abuse (40%), followed by racism (38%), and the majority remains visible.
Anti-black racism accounted for 76% of abuse in the Euro 2020 final. But before the sanctions, racist abuse was relatively low, with homophobia more prevalent before and during the game.
The report, which used artificial intelligence to track more than 400,000 posts on social media platforms during the semi-finals and finals of Euro 2020, says this has been observed in other studies in several sports. He says: “Racism often picks its moment and runs wild after a trigger. This means that a tournament or match with relatively low levels of abuse can become a flashpoint at any time.”
Islamophobia was more prevalent around the AFCON final with 33 cases.
The independent report, published on Saturday to coincide with the United Nations International Day for the Elimination of Hate Speech, also suggests that the owners of 90% of the responsible accounts are identifiable and therefore their actions could be taken on media platforms. social and the police.
FIFPRO President David Aganzo said: “Online abuse is a societal issue and as an industry we cannot accept that this new form of abuse and discrimination affects so many people, including our players.”
As part of this initiative, FIFA and FIFPRO will also provide educational support and mental health counseling to players at major tournaments.
Sky Sports News has contacted Twitter and Meta – the parent company of Facebook and Instagram – for comment.
“The report is sad, but not surprising”
Former England footballer Lianne Sanderson speaking on Sky Sports News:
“That doesn’t surprise me, for someone like me who is regularly abused. It’s gotten better, but if one day passes and I’m not abused, I’m absolutely buzzing.
“In the Euro final with Saka, Sancho and Rashford, they are English until they miss a penalty. So the report makes me sad, but it doesn’t surprise me with racism and homophobia It’s always been there, but now it’s more prevalent for some reason, but we keep pushing, fighting the good fight and we keep talking about it.
“Fortunately I think people realize that their words are quite harmful. If you watch the Premier League this season you’re still going to get people tweeting or messaging on Instagram. Sadly it’s 2022 and these social media companies aren’t doing enough to prevent that from happening.
“It has to be better and more protective for people like me and anyone who experiences abuse like this. It’s like someone has your phone number and you can’t ignore something.”
Hate won’t win
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