Last year, the Professional Footballers’ Association (PFA), in partnership with data science company, Signify, produced a ground-breaking report looking at social media abuse sent to 44 players across the six weeks of Project Restart: click here
Subsequently, the PFA extended the pilot to work across the 2020-2021 season (including EURO 2020) and has covered every Premier League and WSL Twitter account, alongside a selection of EFL players and former-player accounts.
Signify has used its specialist platform, Threat Matrix, to monitor various discriminatory, abusive messages targeting PFA members. So far, Threat Matrix has analysed around 10million posts, verifying thousands of examples of abusive posts, reporting them to Twitter, along with the authors’ account handles.
Further to this, there has been real-world action taken against abusive accounts. Users posting abusive messages from an account displaying a club affiliation have been reported to the relevant club for possible sanctions. In addition, where the gravity of abuse passes the threshold needed to prosecute for hate crimes, we have provided detailed evidence to the UK Football Policing Unit and CPS.
Following the EURO 2020 Final, data shared with Channel 4 News highlights that over 850,000 tweets were analysed across the whole tournament and show:
- 1,913 flagged as potentially abusive, specifically targeting Jadon Sancho, Bukayo Saka, Marcus Rashford and Raheem Sterling.
- 167 posts were considered to be “high risk” abuse.
Significantly, while a number of these tweets were deleted - the accounts have not been permanently suspended by Twitter.
Our preliminary analysis suggests the volume of abuse flagged around yesterday’s EURO 2020 Final, aimed mainly at Jadon Sancho, Bukayo Saka, Marcus Rashford and Raheem Sterling, was higher than the rest of the tournament combined.
The PFA and Signify are currently analysing data from the 2020/2021 season. In August, we will publish findings alongside potential solutions and recommendations.