Dec 14, 2023, 12:55 pm ET in Soccer
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Tackling Online Abuse: US Women’s Soccer Team Faces Unprecedented Challenges

Under Fire on Social Media

The US women’s soccer team, champions on the field, found themselves facing a different kind of battle off it. As the main target of online abuse during this year’s Women’s World Cup, more than any other team, they encountered a torrent of negativity. A recent study highlighted a surge in negative messages directed at US women’s soccer team players, particularly when they were eliminated by Sweden.

What’s the reason? Their success and some misunderstood actions during the national anthem put them in the hot seat.

The Spotlight Attracts Heat

When you’re at the top of WC team stats, you’re in the spotlight, and sometimes that heat can burn. The US team players felt this more than anyone, especially when politicians’ supportive tweets unintentionally sparked more online attacks. Most of this digital backlash, originating from North and Central USA, painted a worrying picture of the fandom.

A Global Problem Exposed

This isn’t just about one team. The study, part of a broader effort to protect players from online harm, revealed a disturbing trend: one in five players at the tournament faced discriminatory messages. This wave of negativity, filled with homophobic and sexist comments, crossed all social media platforms. It’s a wake-up call to the sporting world about the harsh reality of being in the public eye.

A Call to Action

What’s clear is this: the world of soccer needs to step up its game against online abuse. FIFA and FIFPRO are already employing tech tools like AI to shield players, including the US women’s soccer team players, but there’s more to be done.

As the head honchos of soccer say, there’s no room for this kind of behavior, online or offline. It’s about protecting the players and the integrity of the game. After all, the real match isn’t just on the field – it’s about creating a safer, more respectful world for athletes everywhere.

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