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World Cup 2022: Almost 20,000 abusive social media posts

World Cup 2022: Almost 20,000 abusive social media posts

Almost 20,000 abusive social media posts were aimed at players, coaches and officials during last year’s World Cup, says a Fifa report.external-link

Of 20 million posts scanned by moderation software developed by Fifa and players’ union Fifpro, 286,895 were hidden from public view.

The biggest spike in abuse came after England’s quarter-final loss to France, when Harry Kane missed a late penalty.

“The figures and findings in this report do not come as a surprise, but they are still massively concerning,” said Fifpro president David Aganzo.

“They represent a strong reminder for everyone involved in our game, and it must lead to providing preventative measures and solutions for players who are increasingly facing this type of abuse.”

The report, released on Sunday, said more than 300 people have been identified and their details will be shared with authorities “to facilitate real-world action being taken”.

It said 38% of identifiable abuse came from accounts based in Europe and 36% from South America.

Last year Fifa, world football’s governing body, partnered with Fifpro to implement a plan to protect players, coaches and officials from social media abuse during international tournaments.

They established a package of tools called the social media protection service (SMPS), which flagged posts and comments, with 19,636 during the World Cup in Qatar confirmed by the service provider as abusive, discriminatory or threatening.

These were reported to the relevant social media platforms and, in many cases, were removed.

Of the detected abusive messages, sexism made up 13.47%, homophobia 12.16% and racism 10.70%.

“Social media companies’ responses to abuse and threat published on their platforms evolved throughout the tournament but still indicated many blind spots, particularly outside of English language content,” said the report.

“Targeted individual racism was high volume with more than 300 players being targeted and a few individual high-profile players receiving a large proportion of targeted abuse across the competition.

“Homophobia was prolific and platform responses seemed blurred by the cultural differences which seemed to bar action.”

Twitter had the highest number of abusive messages reported to it with 13,105, followed by Instagram (5,370), Facebook (979), YouTube (113) and TikTok (69).

France suffered the highest number of abusive messages when grouped by country, with Brazil the second most and England third.

The Women’s World Cup in Australia and New Zealand, which starts on 20 July, will also feature SMPS support and Fifa has a confidential web-based whistleblowing system to allow people to report abuse.

“Fifa has a duty to protect football, in particular the players and the fans,” said Fifa president Gianni Infantino.

“However, Fifa also expects all authorities and social media platforms to also accept their responsibilities and support us in the fight against all forms of discrimination.”

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