Platforms such as Twitter, Facebook and Instagram now form an integral part of the professional lives of football players and other athletes. They are an extension to their workplace. However, until now, these platforms have largely failed to address abusive behaviour in a strong and unequivocal manner.
Footballers continue to be victims of an elevated amount of abhorrent racist and discriminatory abuse even as they drive public engagement on social media platforms, and help bring attention to important social issues. A recent study conducted by our member the Professional Footballers Association suggests that more than 40 percent of players in England are victims of targeted racist attacks online. Athletes in other sports, along with citizens around the world, experience similar abuse.
FIFPRO is actively offering its support and collaboration to public institutions such as the European Commission, the European Parliament, national governments and relevant international organisations to accelerate stronger regulations to protect their citizens. United and decisive action by athletes, their collective representatives, public institutions, and the sports industry is required to bring about the implementation of adequate safeguards that ensure that platforms are safe and welcoming for all.
FIFPRO General Secretary Jonas Baer-Hoffmann said: “Football players who have publicly and eloquently denounced online abuse have helped to highlight the serious and repetitive nature of these attacks. All of these players will receive our continuous support to call out the lack of care and adequate protection provided by social media companies.
“We now urgently need both national and international authorities to step in and collaborate to make these companies clean up their platforms and remove the stream of abhorrent discrimination that continues to contaminate both public channels and personal lives on every continent.
“FIFPRO and our fellow player unions will continue to actively provide evidence to public institutions on this issue on behalf of our members. At the same time, we are willing to provide any support necessary to assist social media companies in order to make their platforms a safe environment for both players and the general public.”