The BBC cited data from Ofcom and the Alan Turing Institution, the UK’s national institute for data science and artificial intelligence. 2.3 million tweets produced throughout the first half of the 2021–2022 season were analysed by a team of researchers. The research found that during the first five months of the previous season, around 60,000 offensive postings were made in reference to Premier League players.
On Twitter, abuse was aimed towards seven out of ten elite Premier League players, with twelve players receiving the most of it. Eight of them, shockingly, were Manchester United players. The Portuguese Striker was subjected to an astounding 12,520 hateful tweets between August 13 and January 24.
Harry Maguire was listed behind Ronaldo and had 8,954 hostile tweets within the same time period. Naturally, the list continues. However, there were two instances when the number of offensive tweets was larger than before.
The first high occurred on August 27, the day “CR7” returned to Manchester United from Juventus. The second highest occurred when Harry Maguire apologised to the team’s fans through Twitter after the club’s 2-0 loss to Manchester City on November 7.
However, not all of it is negative; the survey found that the majority of football fans utilise social media appropriately. Experts personally reviewed a random selection of 3,000 tweets using technology to automatically analyse abusive tweets in order to achieve accuracy.
Out of that number of tweets, 57% were supportive of the athletes, 27% were neutral, 12.5 percent were negative, and 3.5% were nasty. 2.6% of the 2.3 million tweets that were analysed using machine learning and computers were deemed to be abusive.