At the beginning of this year’s UEFA Women’s EURO final tournament, UEFA launched a dedicated online abuse platform with the aim to monitor, report, and remedy cases of online abuse.
A first interim summary of online abuse cases and interventions is released today at the end of the UEFA Women’s EURO 2022 group stage:
• A total of 618 posts (less than 1% of all posts) across social media platforms have been flagged for review in the group stage. These posts came from 528 individual accounts. Of these, 290 (47%) posts were eligible to be reported directly to the social media platforms for removal.
• As of today, 55% of these abusive posts have been removed by the platforms.
• Reported posts were removed promptly after an average of 63 minutes.
• The teams most affected so far have been Spain, England, France and Italy.
• Some 19% of flagged posts were directed at individual players, 20% targeted team accounts, 17% were directed at coaches, while 39% were directed at competition and competition-related accounts.
• The monitoring of Facebook, Instagram, TikTok, and Twitter in the group phase has highlighted the types of abuse that players, coaches, officials, and other accounts are being subjected to. Some 70% of flagged posts were for generalised abuse, which includes abuse which is not specifically targeted at a group or community. In addition to this, 20% featured sexism, 6% featured racist abuse, and 4% featured homophobic abuse (*). Using this data, UEFA will work with national associations and the social media companies to better fight against abuse during the remainder of the tournament and beyond.
UEFA is liaising closely with major social media platforms such as Twitter, Meta [Instagram and Facebook] and TikTok on these matters. In addition, it engages proactively with participating teams, briefing them ahead of the tournament and following each match, and engages in frequent dialogue with social platforms on available steps to protect players, referees, and officials from online abuse.
Michele Uva, UEFA’s Director of Football and Social Responsibility, said, “Our main goal is always to protect our game. It is great to see the project in action, and I am pleased that we can already see the concrete impact this is having based on the numbers from the group stage. Posts are being identified and removed, and we hope that this gives players, coaches, and referees the possibility to be protected by UEFA. Our next steps are to work proactively to prevent, report, and facilitate removal of abusive posts and comments, and we recognise our responsibility and role in this, and we will continue to share insights in the last part of our fantastic EURO and in future UEFA events.”
What else is UEFA doing tackle online abuse?
The above-mentioned platform is one of three key pillars in a new Respect programme focused on tackling abuse, and works through a combination of automated scanning and human review.
Furthermore, the new Real Scars campaign highlights the devastating effects of online abuse directed at football players, coaches and officials across social media platforms and educate them on how to best defend themselves against such abuse.
Tomorrow, on 20 July, a new ‘Outraged’ documentary series, which discusses discrimination and abuse, will be launched on UEFA.tv and via UEFA broadcasters. One of the five parts of the series’ topics will be online abuse. Football stars including Wendie Renard, Jorginho, Alisha Lehmann, Karen Carney, Kai Havertz, and Patrick Vieira share their experiences and opinions on the topic.
UEFA encourages everyone to join the fight against online abuse by reporting any abusive or discriminatory content to the social media platform on which it has been posted. Anyone that has fallen victim to online abuse or hate speech and is struggling with self-harm or suicidal thoughts is advised to consult a medical professional for support. If threats or comments bring a fear for personal safety and security, contact the police.
(*) The system UEFA uses has additional categories including LGBTQI+ hate and Disability hate; the categories mentioned are those recorded across this period of the tournament.