LONDON (Reuters) - Manchester United duo Cristiano Ronaldo and Harry Maguire were the most abused players on Twitter last season, according to a new report published on Tuesday.
Nearly three quarters of Premier League footballers received abusive messages with some of them receiving daily abuse.
The report, carried out by The Alan Turing Institute and Ofcom and using a new machine-learning technology, analysed 2.3 million messages directed at Premier League players over the first five months of the 2021-22 season.
It found 60,000 posts deemed abusive, with 68% of players in the top flight receiving at least one message in that period.
One in 14 players received abusive tweets every day, according to the report, with half of all abusive messages being directed at 12 players who received on average 15 per day.
Ronaldo received 12,520 abusive tweets while Maguire had 8,954 and Marcus Rashford, also of Manchester United, had the third-highest total with 2,557.
Eight Manchester United players featured in the top 10.
Tottenham Hotspur striker Harry Kane, England's captain, and Manchester City's Jack Grealish, were the only non-Manchester United footballers in the top 10.
As a club, Tottenham players had the highest percentage of total tweets that were abusive, 3.7%.
"These stark findings uncover the extent to which footballers are subjected to vile abuse across social media," Dr Bertie Vidgen, lead author of the report and Head of Online Safety at The Alan Turing Institute, said.
"While tackling online abuse is difficult, we can't leave it unchallenged. More must be done to stop the worst forms of content to ensure that players can do their job without being subjected to abuse."
It was not all bad news, however, with 57% of all tweets positive towards players.
In response, a Twitter spokesperson, quoted by the BBC, said it welcomed the study, but said it has implemented a range of safety features to stop such posts reaching individuals.
"We are committed to combating abuse and, as outlined in our Hateful Conduct Policy, we do not tolerate the abuse or harassment of people on the basis of race, ethnicity, gender, gender identity or sexual orientation," it said.
(Reporting by Martyn Herman, editing by Pritha Sarkar)