Soccer-FIFA offers tools to fight social media abuse to all 211 member countries

FILE PHOTO: A long exposure shows FIFA's logo near its headquarters in Zurich, Switzerland February 27, 2022. REUTERS/Arnd Wiegmann/File Photo

(Reuters) - FIFA's social media tools designed to protect players from online abuse will now be available to all 211 member associations and their teams, world soccer's governing body said on Tuesday, coinciding with the International Day for Countering Hate Speech.

The Social Media Protection Service (SMPS), which was developed by FIFA and the players' union FIFPRO, was first offered to all teams at the 2023 women's World Cup to help moderate hate speech on social media and hide harmful content.

FIFA said a number of teams competing at the ongoing European Championship and the upcoming Copa America have joined the SMPS.

"We have already seen how effective the service has been in FIFA tournaments and it is only logical that we make it available to all 211 FIFA Member Associations, wherever and whenever they play," FIFA President Gianni Infantino said.

"We need to protect all players, coaches, officials and teams from abuse, as well as their followers."

The tool was launched at the 2022 World Cup in Qatar and since then FIFA said the service had hidden 2.6 million abusive comments from public view.

Nearly 31,000 cases of "abusive content" were reported to social media platforms -- such as Facebook, Instagram, TikTok, Twitter and YouTube -- which led to consequences such as account suspensions.

Meanwhile, one in five players were the target of online abuse during the 2023 Women's World Cup.

FIFA said the SMPS will also be used at upcoming events such as the Olympic Games in Paris, the Under-20 women's World Cup in Colombia, the Futsal World Cup in Uzbekistan and the Under-17 women's World Cup in the Dominican Republic.

(Reporting by Rohith Nair in Bengaluru; Editing by Toby Chopra)

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