According to a survey released Monday by FIFA and the FIFPRO global players union, one in every five players at this year’s Women’s World Cup received online harassment.
The results were derived from an examination of 5.1 million postings and comments pertaining to 697 players and coaches competing in the event in Australia and New Zealand.
FIFA, the world governing body of football, stated in a statement that 152 players had received “discriminatory, abusive, or threatening messaging.”
Almost half of all confirmed online abuse was homophobic, sexual, or sexist in character.
The study also discovered that female players at the Women’s World Cup were 29% more likely to be abused than male players at last year’s World Cup in Qatar.
The conclusions were derived from an examination of data provided by FIFA’s Social Media Protection Service (SMPS), which used artificial intelligence tools to screen millions of messages for abusive language.
Players were given the option of opting into the SMPS, and abusive communications totaling 116,820 were hidden from intended receivers under the system.
According to the SMPS statistics, the United States women’s team, who have been consistently targeted for online harassment in the past, received the most abuse during the competition.
FIFA stated that two players, one from the United States and one from Argentina, whose identities were not divulged, were specifically targeted.
According to the article, Colombian midfielder Leicy Santos said the abuse was hazardous to his mental health.
“If there is one thing that footballers suffer from the most, apart from losing, it is all the abusive comments – the taunts, the insults,” he remarked.
“We are people apart from what we do as professional footballers.” Some gamers can tolerate the horrific abuse we experience online, but others cannot. When it comes to mental health, it is a highly sensitive subject.”
Meanwhile, FIFA President Gianni Infantino has vowed not to relent in the fight against player abuse.
“Those who abuse or threaten anyone, whether in FIFA tournaments or elsewhere, have no place on social media,” Infantino said in a statement.
Infantino stated that the SMPS system had protected players, teams, and officials from over 400,000 nasty comments since its inception last year.
“Discrimination has no place in football and no place in society,” he said.