More than half of all players at Euro 2020 and Africa Cup of Nations abused online

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Bukayo Saka was targeted after missing a penalty in the Euros final  (Pool via REUTERS)
Bukayo Saka was targeted after missing a penalty in the Euros final (Pool via REUTERS)

More than half of all players in the finals of Euro 2020 and Africa Cup of Nations were subjected to abuse online, a Fifa report has revealed.

Over 400,000 posts on social media platforms during the semi-final and final stages of the two competitions were tracked by artificial intelligence, with the majority of abuse homophobic (40%) and racist (38%).

The report added that much of the abuse came from players' home nations and took place before, during and after games.

England's Marcus Rashford, Jadon Sancho and Bukayo Saka, who are Black, were bombarded with online abuse after missing their spot-kicks in a shootout against Italy which settled the July 11 European Championship final after the game finished in a draw.

The report said a substitute player from Egypt was the most abused player at the AFCON finals this year.

"Our duty is to protect football and that starts with the players who bring so much joy and happiness to all of us by their exploits on the field of play," FIFA President Gianni Infantino said in a statement on Saturday.

"Unfortunately, there is a trend developing where a percentage of posts on social media channels directed towards players, coaches, match officials and the teams themselves is not acceptable, and this form of discrimination -- like any form of discrimination – has no place in football."

The report added that the abuse on Twitter was constant across the period of its study

while Instagram abuse was "event driven" -- like losing a final -- and more than 75% of comments on the platform included emojis.

Ahead of the World Cup starting in Qatar in November, FIFA said it would work with players' body FIFPRO to implement a plan to protect teams, players, officials, and supporters from abuse on social media during international tournaments.

The two bodies will launch moderation tools and offer educational support and mental health advice to players at FIFA tournaments.

Additional reporting by Press Association.

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