FIFA study finds over half of players in Euro 2020, AFCON finals abused online | Soccer News

More than half the players who played in the most recent Euro 2020 and AFCON finals were abused online before, during and after the game, according to the studies of a shocking report released by FIFA on Saturday.

Homophobic abuse was the most common, with racism second, and though world football’s governing body are not naming names, Sky Sports News understands the most abused players in the Euro 2020 final were Arsenal’s Bukayo Saka and Manchester United’s Marcus Rashford, who both missed from the spot as England lost to Italy on penalties at Wembley last July.

In both tournaments, most of the abuse originated from the home nation of the players being targeted – 38 per cent from the UK and 19 per cent from Egypt after they were also beaten on penalties by Senegal in February’s AFCON final.

England were beaten on penalties by Italy, with Saka (pictured), Rashford and Jadon Sancho all missing spot kicks

As a result, FIFA are setting up a dedicated moderation service during this winter’s World Cup, which takes place in November and December in Qatar, which will make abuse less visible online.

Homophobic slurs were the most common form of detected abuse (40 per cent), with racism second (38 per cent).

Anti-black racism made up 76 per cent of abuse in the Euro 2020 final. But prior to the penalties, racist abuse had been relatively low, with homophobia more prevalent before and during the game.

The reports states that this has been observed in other studies across several sports. It says: “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.”

Islamophobia was more prevalent surrounding the AFCON Final with 33 instances.

Sadio Mane consoles his Liverpool teammate Mo Salah after Senegal beat Egypt on penalties in the final of AFCON 2022.
Egypt were beaten by Senegal in the AFCON final

In response, FIFA and FIFPRO say they will launch a dedicated in-tournament moderation service across men’s and women’s football “that will scan recognized hate speech terms published to identified social media accounts, and once detected, prevent that comment from being seen by the recipient and their followers.”

Sky Sports News has contacted Twitter and Meta – the parent company of Facebook & Instagram – for comment.

Summary of report’s findings

  • Over 55 per cent of players in both Euro 2020 and AFCON 2022 finals received some form of discriminatory abuse
  • Homophobic slurs most common form of detected abuse, with racism second
  • Black players who missed penalties (England) were the most abused players in the Euro 2020 Final / a substitute (Egypt) was the most abused player at AFCON 2022 finals
  • Majority of abuse originated from the targeted players’ home nation
  • Club identity is a trigger for abuse. ie Liverpool players received abuse on Twitter from fans who are supporters of Liverpool’s Premier League rivals

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