July 21st, 2024

1 in 5 players at Women’s World Cup abused online, FIFA says

By The Associated Press on December 11, 2023.

FILE - The tournament trophy is displayed on the pitch before the Women's World Cup soccer final between Spain and England at Stadium Australia in Sydney, Australia, on Aug. 20, 2023. A report says players at this year’s Women’s World Cup were 29% more likely to receive online abuse than those at the men’s tournament in 2022. (AP Photo/Abbie Parr, File)

ZURICH, Switzerland (AP) – Players at the Women’s World Cup were 29% more likely to receive online abuse than those at the men’s tournament in 2022, said a report published on Monday.

One in five players (152) at the Women’s World Cup received “targeted discriminatory, abusive or threatening messaging,” according to FIFA and global players’ association FIFPRO.

They released data from FIFA’s Social Media Protection Service (SMPS), which tries to help shield players, teams and officials from online abuse and hate speech.

Almost 50% of “detected and verified” abusive messages were homophobic, sexual and sexist, SMPS added.

“The abuse that persists online impacts football players all over the world and it cannot be ignored. This toxic online environment is a risky place to be in for players and it affects their mental health and wellbeing,” FIFPRO president David Aganzo said. “Football has a responsibility to protect the players around their workspace.”

The SMPS was launched last year and has been used in eight FIFA tournaments. It uses artificial intelligence to try and prevent abuse on participants’ social media feeds.

The report analysed abusive content from all the major social media platforms during the Women’s World Cup co-hosted by Australia and New Zealand in July and August. FIFA said 5.1 million posts and comments in 35 different languages were analysed. More than 400,000 comments were reported and hidden.

“There can be no place on social media for those who abuse or threaten anyone, be that in FIFA tournaments or elsewhere,” FIFA president Gianni Infantino said. “Discrimination has no place in football and no place in society.”


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