Australian leagues sign deal to combat online abuse

Tokyo 2020 Olympics – Soccer Football – Women – Semifinal – Australia v Sweden – International Stadium Yokohama, Yokohama, Japan – August 2, 2021. Ball boy wearing gloves holds a ball before the match REUTERS/Carl Recine/File Photo

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April 3 (Reuters) – Football clubs in Australia will use artificial intelligence to combat online abuse after the A-Leagues and Professional Footballers Australia signed a partnership with safeguarding platform GoBubble.

Under the initiative, all social media channels across the entire league including those belonging to individual players will be shielded from offensive language using GoBubble’s technology.

“Football has a unique power to connect people from all walks of life, and we want the A-Leagues to be the most welcoming and safe place at every level – in our online communities and in real life,” said A-League CEO Danny Townsend.

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“There is no place for online abuse in our game, and this move is part of our duty of care to players and our fans.

“GoBubble Community’s technology shields anyone who follows player, club and league accounts from seeing harmful abuse and keeps our communities safe.”

The automated system, which was launched last year and was trialled by A-League clubs in February, will use machine-learning based software to monitor social media accounts to identify and deal with online abuse.

Former Melbourne Victory player Josh Hope quit the sport in 2020 aged 22 due to the anxiety caused by online abuse from fans.

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Reporting by Michael Church in Hong Kong; Editing by Stephen Coates

Our Standards: The Thomson Reuters Trust Principles.

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Gaylene Schildgen