A study published by FIFA revealed Saturday that more than 50% of footballers playing in the European Championship and African Cup of Nations were targets of cyberbullying and online abuse.
Much of the abuse came from fans of the players' home nations.
"Homophobic (40%) and racist (38%) comments provided the majority of the abuse," said the independent report published to coincide with the United Nations International Day for Countering Hate Speech.
Using artificial intelligence to track over 400,000 posts on social media platforms during the semifinals and finals of Euro 2020 and 2021 African Cup of Nations 2021, the study found that "over 50% of players received some form of discriminatory abuse."
FIFA said with the World Cup in Qatar just five months away, they will work with the players union FIFPRO to implement a plan on how to protect players from abuse on social media.
This will involve scanning recognized hate speech terms published to identified social media accounts, and once detected, prevent that comment from being seen by the recipient and their followers.
"Although the offending message remains visible to the person who originally made the comment, its visibility and reach will be significantly reduced," said FIFA./AFP