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Out of all the players participating in this year’s Women’s World Cup, 20% were subjected to online harassment.
According to recent information released by Fifa, 152 out of 697 players had their social media accounts closely monitored and received harmful messages, including discrimination, abuse, or threats, during the finals.
More than half of the abusive posts identified by Fifa’s Social Media Protection Service (SMPS) consisted of homophobic, sexual, and sexist abuse.
During the finals in Australia and New Zealand, players were observed to have a 29% higher chance of being subject to online abuse compared to those playing in the men’s finals in Qatar.
During the finals, players were offered the chance to participate in the SMPS moderation service, which has the ability to intercept and conceal any harmful messages.
SMPS scanned more than five million social posts in total, with 102,511 posts flagged by AI for human review. Of those, 7,085 were subsequently verified as discriminatory, abusive or threatening and reported to platforms.
The data from Fifa revealed that the final match between England and Spain had a total of 637 verified cases of abuse, with players from the United States and Argentina experiencing the most.
According to the research, there was an increase in offensive posts and messages following the announcement that members of the British Royal Family would not be present at the match. This was also influenced by a message of good luck from Prime Minister Rishi Sunak.
Fifa discovered that the behavior of Luis Rubiales, the president of the Spanish FA, after the final match led to a notable increase in offensive and sexist material.
In October, Rubiales received a three-year suspension for kissing Spain’s Jenni Hermoso on the lips during the medal ceremony. He had also made a lewd gesture and grabbed his genitals while celebrating Spain’s win from the VIP box at the stadium.
The report included a statement by Colombian soccer player Leicy Santos that stated: “Aside from losing, the most difficult thing for footballers to endure is the barrage of abusive comments – the jeers, the insults.”
As professional footballers, we are more than just our jobs. While some of us can handle the extreme online criticism we face, others struggle with it. Mental health is a delicate matter in this situation.
Fifa president Gianni Infantino stated that individuals who engage in abusive or threatening behavior on social media have no place in Fifa tournaments or any other setting.
In the past year, the Social Media Protection Service, developed with assistance from FIFPRO, has aided Fifa in decreasing the amount of online abuse and hate speech directed towards players, teams, and officials. This has been achieved through the reporting and concealment of over 400,000 comments.
We reject discrimination in both football and society. Let us unite and declare: No to discrimination!
The study revealed that the majority (67%) of the harmful comments originated from North America, while 21% were from Europe.
Fifa reported that all confirmed cases of abuse were brought to the attention of social media platforms. However, the organization noted that the platforms’ efforts to address and address abusive content were inconsistent.
Fifa stated that they have provided proof of account owners’ identities, when possible, to member associations and law enforcement agencies.