What is the FIFA Social Media Protection Service? The Social Media Protection Service protects players, teams and officials from online abuse, keeping their social feeds free from hate and allowing them to enjoy taking part in FIFA events. It also stops their followers being exposed to abusive, discriminatory and threatening posts preventing the normalisation of these kind of actions.
The service offers three levels of defence against online abuse:
Monitor participants’ public accounts for abusive, discriminatory and threatening comments and replies
Moderate abusive and offensive comments and replies by instantly and automatically hiding them, where the account owner has provided permission to do so
Report comments and replies directly to social media platforms for further action where they are deemed to have broken the platforms’ respective terms of service
How it helps
Why does FIFA provide this service? On 18 June 2022, to coincide with the United Nations International Day for Countering Hate Speech, FIFA joined forces with FIFPRO – the worldwide representative organisation for professional footballers – to coordinate and implement a plan on how to protect participating teams, players, officials and supporters from abuse on social media during its international tournaments. FIFA’s pledge came on the back of an independent report which used artificial intelligence to track over 400,000 posts on social media platforms during the semi-finals and finals stage of two international competitions (UEFA EURO 2020 and CAF African Cup of Nations 2021). The report identified that over 50 per cent of players received some form of discriminatory abuse, causing harm to them and their followers.
Online protection at FIFA tournaments
Tackling online abuse at the FIFA Women's World Cup 2023™
By proactively reporting and moderating abusive messages on behalf of participating teams and players, they – and their followers – were able to focus on playing their part in the greatest show on earth.
Tackling online abuse at the FIFA World Cup Qatar 2022™
Across the FIFA World Cup Qatar 2022™, the Social Media Protection Service defended teams, players and fans – allowing them to focus on playing their part in the tournament.
An innovative service
How has the Social Media Protection Service evolved? This is an on-going service which FIFA invests in to achieve the widest possible coverage. The aim? To protect all players who compete in FIFA-affiliated events globally going forward. Since the FIFA World Cup Qatar 2022™, the Social Media Protection Service has operated at the FIFA Club World Cup Morocco 2022™, the FIFA U-20 World Cup Argentina 2023™, the biggest-ever FIFA Women’s World Cup™ in Australia and New Zealand, the FIFA U-17 World Cup Indonesia 2023™ and the FIFA Club World Cup Saudi Arabia 2023™. Furthermore, the service was offered to participants in the FIFAe FAMEHERGAME boot camp for female esports sports players and was implemented at the FIFAe Nations Cup 2023™.
FIFA Women's World Cup Australia & New Zealand 2023™
The FIFA Social Media Protection Service Report, offering an overview into how the service protected players at the FIFA Women’s World Cup Australia and New Zealand 2023™ is now available. The service was developed further specifically for this event, looking at trends and insights, as well as through the implementation of additional terms and phrases that have been historically targeted at female footballers. A number of teams participating in this year’s FIFA Women’s World Cup™ also agreed to use the moderation element of the service, providing an additional layer of protection from online abuse.
Furthermore, FIFA will offer all 211 of its member associations year-round access to the moderation element of the service, ensuring protective measures are offered to teams regardless of whether they qualify for FIFA tournaments or not. FIFA will support member associations and local jurisdictional law authorities in taking real-world action against those who send abuse online, and will assess how it can restrict offenders from purchasing tickets to FIFA World Cup 2026™ once ticketing terms and conditions for that tournament have been finalised. FIFA fundamentally believes that – whether you are a participant or a supporter – your enjoyment of the FIFA tournaments and events should not be affected by online abuse, and FIFA will continue to do all it can to protect teams and players as well as supporting the taking of real-world action against offenders.
It is heartening to see an organisation with the cultural and professional significance of FIFA taking proactive measures to protect not just players and their families but also the wider football community.
Founder of Cybersmile
As discrimination persists, the European Commission supports all efforts to combat discrimination and commends FIFA’s #NoDiscrimination campaign as a good example in tackling this scourge.
European Commissioner for Equality
"Sport has an important role to play in challenging stereotypes and in combatting discrimination. It brings people together from different origins and backgrounds in teams which compete with a sense of fair play. In doing so, talent and merit are valued over any other attributes – and this type of mentality is one which should be exemplary for the rest of society. But as discrimination persists, the European Commission supports all efforts to combat discrimination and commends FIFA’s #NoDiscrimination campaign as a good example in tackling this scourge. At the EU level, we are also proposing legislation to combat hate speech and hate crime which will classify these as crimes at an EU level. It is through a multifaceted approach in all sectors, along with legislation and support from civil society and the private sectors that we can eliminate discrimination in all its forms.” Helena Dalli, European Commissioner for Equality "Although we are seeing social media platforms working to reduce abuse and toxicity on their platforms, the reality is that the problem of harassment and abuse online is an issue which will require a collective effort from all stakeholders before we are going to see truly meaningful change. It is heartening to see an organization with the cultural and professional significance of FIFA taking pro-active measures to protect not just players and their families - but also the wider football community who are so often deeply affected by the abusive content that they are exposed to online." Scott Freeman, founder of Cybersmile
“FIFA and Fare network have a long-standing relationship based on our shared, unrelenting desire to eradicate discrimination from the game. It is encouraging to see a world governing body such as FIFA take steps to protect players in particular but also fans and all those who love the game from online hate and discrimination. We stand with FIFA in their stance towards no discrimination and will provide ongoing support to them as they continue their online protection service and other activities for the FIFA Women's World Cup and beyond." Piara Powar, Executive Director of Fare Network
"We need to combat all forms of discrimination in sport, as well as hate speech: this new report and the pioneering tool to moderate social media abuse contribute to the shared goal to promote fair play and respect in sport." Bjørn Berge, Deputy Secretary General of the Council of Europe