The league that is often viewed “as the best in the world” looks like it has a hate problem.
Racism, sexism and homophobia are rife in the English Premier League according to Kick It Out’s latest report on social media abuse.
Premier League clubs and players had over 130,000 discriminatory posts directed at them between August 2014 and March 2015 – that’s 551 a day – research by Tempero and Brandwatch found after trawling through Twitter, Facebook, supporters’ forums and blogs.
Liverpool striker Mario Balotelli is the most targeted player – with 8000 abusive posts directed at the Italian, over half of which were racist. Teammate Daniel Sturridge had 1600 posts aimed at him, the majority of them on the grounds of sexual orientation.
Clubs were also in the firing line.
Liverpool and Chelsea had around 20,000 discriminatory comments aimed at them – with Arsenal, Manchester United and Manchester City each bearing the brunt of 10,000 abusive posts.
Where are the haters posting?
Twitter accounted for 88% of posts compared to Facebook’s 8%, with a smaller proportion of trolls coming from online forums and blogs.
Men are far more likely to be behind discriminatory comments, posting 78% of abusive content.
Comments are most likely to focus on race (28%), gender (25%) or sexual orientation (19%), with disability discrimination and anti-Semitism each accounting for a tenth of posts.
On a grim day for football, face to face attacks are also on the rise.
In an interview with the BBC, the British Transport Police reported 630 football-related incidents on transport networks since August – including violence, criminal damage and abusive behavior – 162 of which were racially or religiously aggravated.
This comes in the wake of February’s Chelsea racism storm when fans prevented a black man from getting on the Paris Metro as they chanted, “We’re racist, we’re racist and that’s the way we like it.” The five men in question are currently contesting a banning order given to them in March.
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