FIFA’s study into racist abuse on social media during Euro 2020 and this year’s Africa Cup of Nations has revealed that nearly half of the players including Marcus Rashford, Bukayo Saka and Jadon Sancho were targeted across social media platforms during international tournaments.
The world’s football governing body has published an independent report on Saturday, highlighting the increasing degree of abuse directed at footballers on social media platforms.
In this report England’s problem with social media abuse was emphasised after the defeat to Italy in the Euro 2020 final, in which Jadon Sancho, Marcus Rashford and Bukayo Saka were viciously attacked online after missing penalties, dailymail.co.uk reports.
The newly-released report, which used artificial intelligence to track over 400,000 posts on social media platforms during the semifinals and finals stage of two international competitions (UEFA EURO 2020 and African Cup of Nations 2021), has identified that over 50 percent of players received some form of discriminatory abuse, with much of that abuse coming from the players’ home nation.
Homophobic (40 percent) and racist (38 percent) comments provided the majority of the abuse, much of which remains published to the accounts in which it was originally directed.
In Euro 2020, 76 percent of the abuse targeted black players over their skin colour, with Twitter containing more constant racism and Instagram featuring more event-driven incidents. Over 38 percent of the abuse over Euro 2020’s semifinals and final came from the United Kingdom, with Saka, Rashford and Sancho the main targets.
“Our duty is to protect football, and that starts with the players who bring so much joy and happiness to all of us by their exploits on the field of play,” said FIFA president Gianni Infantino.
“Unfortunately, there is a trend developing where a percentage of posts on social media channels directed towards 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.
“With the FIFA World Cup Qatar 2022 and FIFA World Cup Australia and New Zealand 2023 on the horizon, FIFA and FIFPRO recognise it is important to make a stand and to include what is monitored on social media with what is already being monitored in the stadiums. We want our actions to speak louder than our words and that is why we are taking concrete measures to tackle the problem directly.”