Euro and CAN players have been victims of racist and homophobic abuse online: study | New
Over half of all players in the Euros and AFCON finals have received some form of online abuse, the majority of the abuse was homophobic, racist.
More than half of all players at last year’s European Championship and Africa Cup of Nations (AFCON) finals in February suffered discriminatory online abuse, a published report has revealed by football’s world governing body, FIFA.
The Independent report used artificial intelligence to track over 400,000 posts on social media platforms during the semi-finals and knockout stages of both football competitions and found that the majority of abuse was homophobic, 40%, and racist, 38%.
The report found that much of the abuse originated in the players’ home countries and took place before, during and after matches.
England’s Marcus Rashford, Jadon Sancho and Bukayo Saka, who are black, have been bombarded with online abuse after missing their penalty kicks in a shootout against Italy that settled the European Championship final July 11 after the game ended in a draw.
An Egyptian substitute player was the most abused player in this year’s AFCON final, according to the report.
“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,” FIFA President Gianni Infantino said in a statement on Saturday.
“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,” he said.
The report added that Twitter abuse was consistent throughout the study period, while Instagram abuse was “event-driven” – such as losing a final – and more than 75% of comments on the platform included emojis.
Reuters has contacted Twitter and Instagram for comment.
Ahead of the start of the World Cup in Qatar in November, FIFA said it would work with players’ body FIFPRO to implement a plan to protect teams, players, officials and fans from abuse on social networks during international tournaments.
Both bodies will launch moderation tools and offer educational support and mental health advice to players at FIFA tournaments.