FIFA study finds more than half of players at Euro 2020, AFCON finals abused online | football news

More than half of the players who played in the most recent Euro 2020 and AFCON finals suffered online abuse before, during and after the match, according to studies in a shocking report published by FIFA and FIFPRO.

Homophobic abuse was the most common, with racism a close second, 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 Arsenal’s Bukayo Saka. and Manchester United’s Marcus Rashford, who missed out on the final. place when England lost to Italy on penalties at Wembley last July.

In both tournaments, the majority of abuse originated from the home nation of the targeted players: 38 per cent from the UK and 19 per cent from Egypt after Senegal also beat them on penalties in February’s AFCON final. .

England were beaten on penalties by Italy, with Saka (pictured), Rashford and Jadon Sancho all missing shots from the penalty spot.

In response, FIFA and FIFPRO, the world’s representative organization for professional footballers, announce that they will launch an exclusive moderation service at the men’s and women’s football tournament during this winter’s World Cup “that will scan recognized terms of incitement to hate posted on identified social media accounts.” , and once detected, prevent that comment from being seen by the recipient and the followers of it.”

FIFA President Gianni Infantino said: “Our duty is to protect football, and that starts with the players who bring so much joy and happiness to all of us with their exploits on the field of play.

“Unfortunately, a trend is developing where a percentage of posts on social media channels directed at players, coaches, referees 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

  • More than 55 percent of the players at the Euro 2020 and AFCON 2022 finals received some form of discriminatory abuse.
  • Homophobic slurs are the most common form of abuse detected, with racism second
  • Black players missing 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
  • Most of the abuse originated from the target players’ nation of origin.
  • The identity of the club is a trigger for abuse. i.e. Liverpool players received abuse on Twitter from fans who are supporters of Liverpool’s Premier League rivals

“With the FIFA World Cup Qatar 2022 and the FIFA World Cup Australia & New Zealand 2023 on the horizon, FIFA and FIFPRO recognize that it is important to position and include what is monitored on social media with what is already being monitored. monitor in the stadiums.

“We want our actions to speak louder than our words and that is why we are taking concrete steps to address the problem directly.”

Homophobic slurs were the most common form of abuse detected (40 percent), with racism second (38 percent), with the majority remaining visible.

Racism against blacks accounted for 76 per cent of abuse at the Euro 2020 final. But before the sanctions, racist abuse had been relatively low, with homophobia more prevalent before and during the game.

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Former West Ham defender Anton Ferdinand says he is not surprised by the scale of abuse against players after a FIFA study found that more than half of the players in the Euro 2020 and AFCON finals were abused. online.

The report, which used artificial intelligence to track more than 400,000 posts on social media platforms during the semi-final and final stage of Euro 2020, claims this has been observed in other studies across various sports. He says: “Racism often picks its time and is unleashed after a trigger. This means that a tournament or match with relatively low levels of abuse can turn into a flash point at any time.”

Islamophobia was more frequent around the AFCON final with 33 cases.

Sadio Mane comforts his Liverpool teammate Mo Salah after Senegal beat Egypt on penalties in the AFCON 2022 final.
Egypt was defeated by Senegal in the AFCON final

The independent report, released on Saturday to coincide with the United Nations International Day to Counter Hate Speech, also suggests that the account holders of 90 percent of responsible accounts are identifiable and therefore their actions could rise to social media platforms 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.”

Under the initiative, FIFA and FIFPRO will also provide educational support and mental health advice to players during major tournaments.

Sky Sports News has contacted Twitter and Meta, the parent company of Facebook and Instagram, for comment.

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Arsenal Gaygooners co-chairman Carl Fearn says he would like to see more action taken to tackle homophobic abuse on social media.

‘The report is sad, but not surprising’

Former England footballer Lianne Sanderson speaking on Sky Sports News:

“This doesn’t surprise me, for someone like me who is abused on a regular basis. It’s gotten better, but if a day goes by and I’m not abused, I’m absolutely thrilled.”

“During the European Championship final with Saka, Sancho and Rashford, they are English until they miss a penalty. So the report makes me sad, but I am not surprised by the racism and homophobia. It has always been there, but now it is more frequent. 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 will always see people tweeting or messaging on Instagram. Unfortunately, it’s 2022 and those social media companies don’t. I don’t do enough to prevent that from happening.

“It has to be better and more protective of people like me and everyone who receives abuse like this. It’s like someone has your phone number and you can’t unsee something.”

Hate won’t win

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