Manchester United duo Cristiano Ronaldo and Harry Maguire received the most Twitter abuse out of all Premier League players last season, according to a report.
Ofcom commissioned researchers at the Alan Turing Institute, the national institute for data science and artificial intelligence, to analyse tweets sent during the first five months of the 2021-22 football season.
Their analysis has shown that there were 60,000 abusive posts out of the 2.3 million tweets that were published in the first half of last season.
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The report defined an abusive tweet as a message that “threatens, insults, derogates, dehumanises, mocks or belittles a player” and also includes “slurs, negative stereotypes, excessive use of profanities and angry emoji”.
Half of the abuse was directed at 12 players with eight of them Manchester United players. More than 300 abusive tweets are sent to Premier League footballers every day.
“These findings shed light on a dark side to the beautiful game,” Ofcom director for broadcasting and online content Kevin Bakhurst said.
“Online abuse has no place in sport, nor in wider society, and tackling it requires a team effort.”
There were two peaks in the abusive tweets. The first was when Ronaldo rejoined Manchester United on August 27 2021 when he received 3,961 abusive messages.
The second peak was when Harry Maguire tweeted an apology after Manchester United’s 2-0 defeat to Manchester City on November 7. There were 2,903 abusive tweets sent.
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Players who received the most abusive tweets*
- Cristiano Ronaldo – 12,520
- Harry Maguire – 8,954
- Marcus Rashford – 2,557
- Bruno Fernandes – 2,464
- Harry Kane – 2,127
- Fred – 1,924
- Jesse Lingard – 1,605
- Jack Grealish – 1,538
- Paul Pogba – 1,446
- David de Gea – 1,394
*Between August 13 2021 and January 24 2022 compiled by Ofcom, The Alan Turing Instititute
Other players received large volumes of abuse following a “trigger”.
Newcastle defender Ciaran Clark was sent off against Norwich in November with 78 per cent of tweets directed to him that day being abusive.
Crystal Palace’s James McArthur also received a large amount of abuse after he was yellow carded for stepping on Bukayo Saka against Arsenal in October.
Researchers have said they will look at whether there was a spike when footage emerged of West Ham defender Kurt Zouma kicking and slapping his cat in February.
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