On Saturday, FIFA published an independent report featuring the increased abuse on social media directed toward football players. The most abused players in the reports include Marcus Rashford, Bukayo Saka, and Jadon Sancho. As per the reports, the football governing body conducted a study about racial abuse targeting players during UEFA Euro 2020 and Africa Cup of Nations 2022. The report highlighted England’s issues with social media abuse after their defeat to Italy in the Euro Cup finals 2020. The English fans mainly targeted Rashford, Sancho, and Saka after they missed a penalty in the final.
FIFA’s online abuse report was compiled using artificial intelligence. The AI tracked over 400,000 posts on social media during the semifinals and finals of the two tournaments. Apparently, the report recognized that fifty percent of the players received some kind of discriminatory abuse. In addition, most of those attacks came from their home countries.
Moreover, forty percent of the abusive comments were homophobic. And 38% among them were racist. Also, most abusive comments still exist on the social media platforms on the accounts they were originally posted from. Then, 76% of the social media abuse was directed toward black players over their skin color. Also, Twitter comments comprised mainly of constant racism, while Instagram had more event-driven comments. More than 38% of the abusive comments in the Euro 2020 semifinals and final came from the United Kingdom, with Rashford, Sancho, and Saka being the main target.
FIFA President Opens Up About The Abuse & Racism Concerns
The FIFA head Gianni Infantino was quite vocal about the issue at hand. Gianni revealed that FIFA’s duty is to protect the football and the players who bring the fans tons of happiness and joy with their feats on the field. Moreover, there is a growing trend of abusive social media posts directed towards players, coaches, match officials, and the teams. The FIFA president mentioned that the abuse was unacceptable. Also, this type of discrimination, like any other, has no place in the game of football.
Infantino also stated that FIFA and FIFPRO recognize the need to make a strong stand against such abuse with the FIFA World Cup In Qatar this year. The 52-year-old pointed out the need to include the findings on social media along with findings in the stadiums. He added, “We want our actions to speak louder than our words. And that is why, we are taking concrete measures to tackle the problem directly.”