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02nd Aug 2022

Eight of the 10 most abused players on social media play for Manchester United

Daniel Brown

Around one in 12 abusive tweets targeted a victim’s protected characteristic

Manchester United duo Cristiano Ronaldo and Harry Maguire received the most Twitter abuse of any Premier League players, a report by Ofcom and the Alan Turing Institute has found.

The report also discovered that a Premier League footballer is abused every four minutes on Twitter, with eight of the 10 most abused players playing for the Red Devils during the study period.

Following the Euro 2020 final – which saw Marcus Rashford, Jadon Sancho and Bukayo Saka abused online after missing penalties for England in the final against Italy – a study of 2.3m tweets sent in the aftermath found that, on average, 362 abusive tweets were sent daily, with seven in 10 Premier League players on Twitter abused.

Moreover, around one in 12 abusive tweets targeted a victim’s protected characteristic, for example, their gender or race.

Portuguese international Ronaldo received the most abuse during the period examined, with the 37-year-old receiving 12,520 tweets. Given that he received the most tweets overall – 576,915 in total – it means that 2.2 per cent of the messages he received were abusive.

Ronaldo’s teammate Maguire was second in the list, with the England international receiving 8,954 abusive messages – many of which came after he sent an apology tweet following United’s defeat to Manchester City. In total, 14.90 per cent of the tweets Maguire received were abusive.

A number of other Red Devils players were abused, including Bruno Fernandes, David de Gea, Fred, Jesse Lingard – who signed for recently promoted Nottingham Forest this summer – Rashford and Paul Pogba, who re-signed for Juventus last month.

England duo Harry Kane and Jack Grealish also featured in the top 10, while the player who received the most abuse as a percentage of all of the messages directed at him was Newcastle United defender Ciaran Clark, with 34.1 per cent of the tweets he received being abusive.

The next most abused player was Crystal Palace’s James McArthur, who was given a yellow card after stepping on the leg of Saka. “Users who appear to be Arsenal fans used insults to refer to James McArthur,” the report found.

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