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With 11 people arrested for racist social media posts after the EURO 2020 final, a new report shows that racist online abuse skyrocketed in the second half of the football season.
Research conducted by Signify for the Professional Footballers’ Association (PFA) found that unmoderated racist abuse online increased 48 percent during the reporting period. About half of the offensive posts came from the UK, with five percent from India, five percent from Southeast Asia, and four percent from accounts in the US.
After monitoring more than six million social media posts on Twitter and player accounts for the Premier League, Women’s Super League (WSL), and English Football League (EFL), researchers concluded that social media companies simply remove offensive posts instead of punishing the people behind them.
“Social media companies are huge companies with the best technicians. If they wanted to find solutions to online abuse, they could. This report shows they are choosing not to,” said Troy Deeney, Watford captain and PFA representative Players’ board.
“Now we know that fraudulent accounts and their club affiliation can be identified. More needs to be done to hold them accountable.”
Signify claims to have identified more than 100 posts in each month of the 2020/21 season containing direct, discriminatory abuse and serious threats. A total of 1,781 offensive tweets were found (and reported) – 48 percent more than the first half of the season – from 1,674 accounts.
However, only 56 percent of the racially offensive posts identified throughout the season have been removed, with some still alive for months.
To date, the UK Football Policing Unit (UKFPU) has received more than 600 reports from individuals, charities, clubs and other organizations across the country, of which 207 were found criminal. And after making requests for data on the platforms, 34 accounts in the UK were identified and 11 arrests were made.
However, it is said that it is still waiting for data from the social media companies on 50 remaining account holders. “The complexity of investigating social media abuse cannot be underestimated,” said Police Chief Mark Roberts, head of soccer for the National Police Chiefs’ Council. “A lot of work went into identifying these eleven people.”