This study focused on the number of abusive accounts that could be identified – showing that more action can be taken by authorities, national football associations and (where there is a clear affiliation) domestic clubs.
The study has been able to identify and categorize abuse with global reach from 411 detected accounts. By auditing abuse and accounts in this way, FIFA will be better informed on regulation and policy regarding better moderation and action by social media platforms. The identification of these authors would allow future studies to support real action by FIFA and their member federations/national associations, providing data that can inform real action. Actionable solutions can range from inviting abusers to education programs, excluding them from purchasing tickets or tournament attendance, through to supporting legal enforcement action in the most serious cases.
Targeted Player Analysis
EURO 2020 Final
The racist abuse targeting three black English players after penalty misses in the EURO 2020 Final has been well documented. However, there was also significant abuse directed at Italian players. Much of this abuse is still live, especially where it involves English slurs for Italians.
The fact it is still live after 9 months highlights the importance of specialised and tailored monitoring and detection that combines technical elements with knowledge of the sport, fans and terms / tactics used.
We also detected abuse of England players directed through praise of Italian players with racist terms used to describe players tackled in a particular challenge. For example the use of racial terms directed at Saka in response to Chiellini tackling and dragging him down by the shirt collar.
A key point to note is that prior to the penalties, racist abuse had been relatively low. Homophobic terms were more prevalent in the preceding days and first part of the match. This has been observed in other studies across several sports. Racism often picks its moment and is unleashed after a trigger. This means that a tournament or match with relatively low abuse levels can become a flashpoint at any moment.
Egypt coach Carlos Queiros features in the top 5 most abused targets in the AFCON 2022 Final (Queiros’ decision to select Hamdy led to the majority of this abuse).
Marwan Hamdy received significant use of both homophobic and violent terms. A significant portion of this abuse was on Instagram and over 30% contained emojis.
This abuse appeared to be event driven – the result of Hamdy being brought on as a substitute during the final.
Senegal’s Sadio Mane received early abuse having missed a penalty during the standard 90 minutes. However, this died out as the match progressed.
Mo Salah received over 50% of all Islamophobic comments during the study. The majority of these are from accounts based in the UK and seem to have been triggered by domestic football rivalries from fans watching the tournament. Even where accounts are based in Egypt or Africa the accounts show allegiance to rivals of Liverpool.