Women’s Euro: UEFA launches platform to monitor abusive comments online
European football’s governing body has launched a new platform to identify and remove offensive social media posts as the Women’s EURO competition kicks off in front of record crowds.
Forty-one abusive messages were identified during the opening of the competition which saw England beat Austria 1-0 on Wednesday night, UEFA said in a statement on Thursday. Of these, 28 have been flagged to social media platforms for removal.
Almost half of the abusive content was related to sexism (46%), followed closely by hate speech (44%). Women’s football, teams and players have also been targets of acts of homophobia.
The new platform is part of UEFA’s Respect program to combat abuse and works through a combination of automated scanning and human review.
The governing body explained that it liaises closely with the various teams and briefs them after each match. He is also in “frequent dialogue” with social media platforms including Twitter, Instagram, Facebook and TikTok.
A first full summary of online abuse cases and responses will be published at the end of the UEFA Women’s EURO group stage,” UEFA said.
The platform is expected to be used in each of the final competitions, including youth, women’s and men’s matches over the next three years.
Arrests and bans
The world of football has relied for the past two years on offensive comments posted online, including racist abuse aimed at players.
Orchestrated English football leagues, clubs and players a four-day boycott of social media platforms to protest racist abuse in April 2021 to demand tougher action to end hate speech online.
A few months later, British police have arrested several people after three black England players received a torrent of racist abuse online for missing penalties in their Euro 2020 clash against Italy, with the team losing the title.
The UK government has since passed a new law banning people from attending football matches for ten years if they are found guilty of football-related online racism.
The governing body of the Football Association of the United Kingdom has also cracked down on inappropriate behavior by players, clubs and fans with 11 different disciplinary charges. leveled in june on inappropriate and/or abusive and/or insulting language.
Earlier this month, Birmingham City FC women’s coach Marcus Bignot received a sideline ban for seven matches and sentenced to a compulsory face-to-face education program after he was found guilty of using homophobic language towards Tottenham manager Rehanne Skinner during a February game.
The growing popularity of women’s football
Wednesday’s opener broke the attendance record for a Women’s Euro match by a wide margin with 68,781 at Manchester’s Old Trafford stadium.
The previous record of 41,301 was set in the 2013 final which saw Germany clinch the title against Norway.
A week before the competition kicked off, UEFA announced that more than half a million tickets had been sold, more than double the previous record of 240,000 set at the last event in 2017.
A fifth of tickets were bought by people outside the host country, with England, the Netherlands, Germany, Sweden and France showing the highest demand.
But demand has also come from beyond European borders, with tickets bought in 99 countries, including Australia, China and North America.
A total of 700,000 tickets were available for the tournament.