One in five players at 2023 Women's World Cup got abusive messages - FIFA

football11 December 2023 19:30| © Reuters
article image
© Getty Images

One in five players were the target of online abuse during the 2023 Women's World Cup, FIFA said on Monday as a package of social media protection tools hid nearly 117 000 comments.

The Social Media Protection Service (SMPS), developed by the world governing body with players' union FIFPRO and launched at the 2022 men's World Cup, was offered to teams at the women's finals in Australia and New Zealand, FIFA said in June.

The tool, which has been used at eight FIFA tournaments in the last 12 months, monitors and moderates hate speech on social media, hiding harmful content from the players.

Players at this year's Women's World Cup were 29% more likely to be targeted with online abuse compared with players at last year's men's finals in Qatar, the FIFA report showed.

About 5.1 million posts and comments in 35 different languages were analysed for abusive content, FIFA said, protecting 697 players and coaches actively using 2 111 accounts across Facebook, Instagram, TikTok, X and YouTube.

More than 150 female players received targeted discriminatory, abusive or threatening messages during the Australia and New Zealand tournament, where two teams - the US and Argentina - stood out as key targets.

Homophobic, sexual and sexist abuse accounted for almost 50% of detected abusive messages, FIFA added, and 116, 00 comments were hidden across Facebook, Instagram and YouTube being junk, spam, discriminatory, abusive or threatening.

The final, which saw Spain beat European Champions England 1-0, generated the largest spike of abusive content across the tournament, with more than 6 500 comments hidden by SMPS.

"There can be no place on social media for those who abuse or threaten anyone, be that in FIFA tournaments or elsewhere," said FIFA President Gianni Infantino.

FIFPRO President David Aganzo 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. Football has a responsibility to protect the players around their workspace."

The SMPS tool, which was also used at the 2023 Under-17 World Cup in Indonesia in November and December, uses artificial intelligence to protect the players and also stops their followers being exposed to hate speech.