Football Racism on Social Media

| April 17, 2015 | 0 Comments

Racism in football is a really hot debate. It sparks a wide range of opinions and has some serious cases that have been researched that show racism online is one of the most growing aspects of this dirty habit.


Research was completed by the anti discrimination group Kick it Out. They looked at Premier League clubs, and found that the clubs and the players received more than 130,000 abusive posts from social media. The period they examined was from August 2014 to March 2015. Of all the football teams in the Premier League it was found that Chelsea were the club that were targeted the most. The person who was targeted online the most was Mario Balotelli. He suffered more online abuse than any other player.

Mario Balotelli

Mario Balotelli

Kick it Out

The director of Kick it Out, Rosin Wood commented that the level of abuse directed at players and clubs was “staggering”. Kick it Out now want to form an expert group to tackle the abuse from the internet trolls. They stated they must do “all that we can” to protect the players specifically from this kind of abusive behaviour, The group would be made up of representatives of the football industry, social media, and also the police. They would track down and report any racist, sexist, or homophobic abuse online in forums, twitter, facebook and other online platforms.

Direct Abuse

According to the study by Kick it Out, there have been an estimated 134,400 posts that have been categorized as discriminatory, all related to just the Premier League. They found that this was the equivalent of 16,800 posts of a discriminatory nature every month, or around 551 posts per day. They found that men done most of the abuse, with 78% coming from them, and the other 22% coming from women.


The Premier League football clubs also received direct abuse. There were more than 95,000 posts of a discriminatory nature directed at them in total. The team that received the most abuse online was Chelsea football club, with a total of approximately 20,000 posts directed to them. Second to Chelsea was Liverpool, they clocked up a total of approximately 19,000 abusive messages.


Of all the discriminatory posts that were found online, approximately 39,000 of them were directed towards the Liverpool striker Mario Balotelli. Tempero and Brandwatch who are a social media management agency, and conduct analytics and interaction into social media discovered that twitter was the main abuse platform with over 134,000 discriminating posts being posted on the platform, which was 88% of the total. Facebook was second with 8%, and then forums and blogs made up the remaining.


There have been 140 received complaints to Kick it Out made for the time period measured. All of them relating to football based hate crime taking place on social media. There is a huge volume of racism appearing through social media for football, but what can be done about it? Twitter runs an abusive behaviour policy to try to stamp it out. While Facebook has a community standards page which they use to hold as a measure against possible abuse. There has been some court cases concerning social media abuse and Liam Stacey, a student 21 years old, was jailed for 56 days in 2012 for sending a racially offensive tweet direct to Fabrice Muamba, who at the time had suffered from a cardiac arrest.


What can realistically be done to clamp down on this type of bad behaviour? Since the internet is becoming more monitored, people are moving to anonymous or fake social media accounts to carry out their abuse. This means it becomes difficult to track down this criminal element. It doesn’t mean its impossible but because of the sheer scale of abuse that happens on social media it makes it very difficult for the social media companies, and law enforcement agencies to track anyone down.

With social media accounts becoming more tied into the correct persons identification we can expect racism and discrimination from real peoples accounts to be reduced with a few high profile court cases, and jail sentences. This is probably the best we can expect to happen, and with Kick it Out frontline advertising campaigns, hopefully the problem will be reduced.



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