As Premier League football returns from its summer break, the latest episode of Ofcom’s (Office of Communications) Life Online podcast shines a light on the dark side of the beautiful game: the scale of online abuse targeted at players.
Ofcom teamed up with The Alan Turing Institute to analyse more than 2.3 million tweets directed at Premier League footballers over the first five months of the 2021/22 season.
Crossing the Line research found that while the vast majority of fans use social media responsibly, hundreds of abusive tweets are sent to footballers every single day. Seven in 10 Premier League players were targeted with abusive posts, with one being sent every four minutes.
Recorded live at the launch of the research at the National Football Museum in Manchester in August 2022, the latest episode of Life Online tackles this problem head on and features a panel discussion with an all-star line-up.
Hosted by BT Sport presenter, Jules Breach, the panel includes: broadcaster and former England captain, Gary Lineker; Manchester United’s Aoife Mannion; the PFA Chief Executive, Maheta Molango; Kick it Out Chair, Sanjay Bhandari; and Ofcom’s Online Safety Director, Richard Wronka.
On the episode, the panel speak candidly about their diverse experiences of online abuse, the effect it can have and what they think should be done to tackle it.
And as the new season kicks off and the eyes of millions of fans turn to action on the pitch, there was a clear message from Kick it Out’s Sanjay Bhandari to anyone who sees online abuse:
“Yes to rivalry. Yes to banter. No to hate… don’t be a bystander, call it out.”
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