Your basket

Join The FSA

© Alamy

More must be done about online abuse – players’ union

Research commissioned by the Professional Footballers Association (PFA) found there was a 48% increase in unmoderated racist online abuse in the second half of the 2020-21 football season, with 50% of abusive accounts coming from the UK.

Despite social media platforms pledging better moderation, the PFA-funded research found more than three-quarters of the 359 accounts sending explicitly racist abuse to players were still on the platform. As of July 2021, the vast majority of these accounts remain unsanctioned.

Additionally, only 56% of racially abusive posts identified throughout the season had been removed, with some posts remaining live for months, and in some cases, the full duration of the season.

The research monitored more than six million social media posts on Twitter, looking at player accounts from the Premier League, Women’s Super League (WSL) and English Football League (EFL).

The data in this report suggests platforms are concentrating on removing individual, offensive posts instead of holding those who write them accountable. Signify reported 1,674 accounts to Twitter during the 2020-21 season, a third of which were identified as being affiliated with a UK club.

Head of the Fans for Diversity campaign Anwar Uddin said: “We all use social media on a daily basis – and it should be a great place for players to connect with supporters.

“But if the social media companies don’t act on abuse and protect players from discrimination online I can see a lot of them leaving social media entirely. That’s something we don’t want to see.”

The report also found players across the leagues faced homophobic, ableist and sexist abuse. Homophobic abuse was included in 33% of abusive posts.

In May, the FSA and PFA joined a football-wide social media boycott to draw further attention to online abuse.

PFA Chief Executive Maheta Molango said: “The time has come to move from analysis to action

“The technology exists to identify abuse at scale and the people behind offensive accounts.

“Having access to this data means that real-world consequences can be pursued for online abuse. If the players’ union can do this, so can the tech giants.”

Related Articles

How can fans report online abuse?

Not all supporters know how to report hate crime incidents, be they online or at the match, so we thought it would be useful to explain how.

Statement: Liverpool supporters union respond to Paris report

Earlier we reported on the UEFA panel report into the chaos around the 2022 Champions League final in Paris. Below is a statement from our affiliate members at Liverpool, Spirit of Shankly, on the findings of that report… Spirit of Shankly today welcome the

#ICYMI: Union Man

The MLS has been serving up some absolute belters this summer and this week it’s the turn of Philadelphia Union’s Jose Martinez to show off. Martinez recused a point for his side in the last minute against Orlando with a sensational long-range volley. Not bad for his first goal in the MLS.

Premier League TV deal – more money, more problems?

News that the Premier League plans to broadcast around 270 of its games, up from 200, is unwelcome but not entirely unsurprising for matchgoing supporters.

Funding partners

  • The Football Association
  • Premier Leage Fans Fund


  • Gamble Aware
  • Co-operatives UK
  • FSE
  • Kick It Out
  • Level Playing Field
  • Living Wage Foundation
  • Pledgeball