Turns out all it took was an increasingly dire situation, some really poor publicity, and the threat of “billions of pounds” in government fines for Facebook to take some responsibility over the continued abuse of soccer players on its platforms.
Speaking to the BBC, the social media firm’s UK head of content policy Fadzai Madzingira said the company has been “horrified” by a recent surge in instances of online hate as she outlined new measures to tackle the issue, which include temporarily banning the Instagram accounts of individuals who repeatedly send abusive messages.
However, the Tip-Off cannot help but wonder whether Facebook has really been that horrified given that the measures are only now being introduced after a lengthy period of inaction over a problem that has existed for years. It’s also hard not to question if the threat of time on the naughty step alone will be enough to deter social media users from continuing to target high-profile players.
As it happens, the UK’s leading soccer bodies don’t believe temporary bans are enough. The likes of the Premier League, English Football League (EFL), Women’s Super League (WSL) and anti-discrimination charity Kick It Out recently put their name to an open letter addressed to Twitter’s Jack Dorsey and Facebook’s Mark Zuckerberg urging them to take further action.
‘We have had many meetings with your executives over the years but the reality is your platforms remain havens for abuse,’ the letter read.
‘Your inaction has created the belief in the minds of the anonymous perpetrators that they are beyond reach. The relentless flow of racist and discriminatory messages feeds on itself: the more it is tolerated by Twitter, Facebook and Instagram, platforms with billions of users, the more it becomes normal, accepted behaviour.’
World War Shoe
David Beckham has never been one to shy away from the limelight, but Deadline reports that the 45-year-old will now be stepping behind the camera to produce World War Shoe, a three-part series documenting the famous feud between German sportswear brands Adidas and Puma.
Studio 99, the former England captain’s production firm, is reportedly joining forces with Boat Rocker Studios, Unscripted and its Matador Content company to work on the documentary, which will tell the tale of how Adidas founder Adi Dassler and his brother Rudi, who started Puma, launched rival businesses in the town of Herzogenaurach.
Boat Rocker Studios’ Jay Peterson and Todd Lubin, president of Matador Content, promised in a joint statement that “you’ll never look at your sneakers the same way again.”
Read the Riot act
The esports industry’s longstanding sexism problem perhaps reached its nadir with the 2014 ‘Gamergate’ scandal and it has been actively trying to repair that image for a number of years.
So news that Riot Games, developer of esports juggernaut League of Legends (LoL), is investigating allegations of gender discrimination and sexual harassment by its chief executive Nicolo Laurent is both shocking and troublingly reminiscent of older problems.
It follows a legal complaint against the gaming company by a former employee, Sharon O’Donnell, who was sacked by Riot last July. O’Donnell, who is claiming wrongful termination, is seeking compensation for lost wages due to unpaid overtime, medical expenses and general damages.
In the lawsuit, O’Donnell accuses Laurent of making sexual advances towards her and asking her to travel with him outside of work. When O’Donnell refused, she alleges Laurent was aggressive towards her and that her termination of employment was directly linked to the chief executive’s alleged advances.
Riot says Laurent has pledged his ‘full cooperation and support’ to the process, adding that O’Donnell’s sacking was ‘based on multiple well-documented complaints from a variety of people’ and that any suggestion otherwise is ‘simply false’.
The company is already under scrutiny from multiple government agencies in California due to alleged ‘gender discrimination in hiring, pay and promotion decisions; sexual harassment; and retaliation by Riot against its female employees,’ according to documents obtained by Daily Esports.
A report by the Daily Mail has revealed how both the ATP and WTA deliberately delay the publication of live match scores on their own websites by up to 30 seconds in order to drive tennis fans towards those operated by online bookmakers.
The UK newspaper notes how such delays help boost the value of the two tours’ betting data deals with IMG and StatsPerform respectively. In a statement issued to the Mail, the WTA admitted that its score updates are intentionally delayed to prioritise betting sites but the leading women’s circuit reportedly declined to provide an explanation.
As the Mail notes, tennis authorities were urged to stop selling ‘live-score’ data three years ago, when an independent review into match-fixing warned how the practice could lead to an increase in corruption, particularly at the lower levels of the sport. But it appears the advice of Adam Lewis QC, who chaired the review panel, has fallen on deaf ears.
Could the fact that IMG and StatsPerform collectively pay around UK£950 million in data rights fees possibly have something to do with it?
Ed Norton is in sports tech?
The eagle-eyed on Twitter recently might have spotted this:
To any companies who spent a bunch of $ on Super Bowl ads only to wake up & read (below) that Nielsen couldn’t deliver a low-tech ratings report for over 24 hours: if you’re crazy enough to still be relying on Nielsen for insights, you’re shit out of luck https://t.co/T4HCPPwruN
— Edward Norton (@EdwardNorton) February 10, 2021
It seemed an odd beef for an Oscar-winning actor whose previously known ties to sports are his turn as poker hustler Worm in Rounders, an improbable pickup basketball victory in American History X, a Soccer Aid cameo in 2012, playing doubles with Novak Djokovic at a John McEnroe charity event, and courtside seats for the Los Angeles Lakers.
To save you trawling through the rest of the 12-tweet thread on the benefits of measurement firm EDO, here is why Norton was so keen to disparage sector rival Nielsen:
If anyone is wondering why I’m writing this: I co-founded EDO with my friend Dr. Daniel Nadler (founder & ex-CEO of Kensho). Biased? Yup. But we assembled this all-star team & we’re incredibly proud of the brilliant work they’re doing. @karaswisher @profgalloway @jonahgoodhart
— Edward Norton (@EdwardNorton) February 10, 2021
Not a great look of the week
Finale del mondiale per club in Qatar, premiazioni.
Il presidente della FIFA Infantino istruisce le donne della squadra arbitrale per non dare fastidio allo sceicco e evitare contatti impuri.
Il calcio ai diritti preferisce le valigette piene di soldi.
Che imbarazzo. pic.twitter.com/KuCSPyyc2j
— Giulio Cavalli (@giuliocavalli) February 14, 2021
After accusations that Gianni Infantino warned female officials Edina Alves Batista and Neuza Back not to approach Sheikh Joaan bin Hamad Al Thani, the Fifa president hit back with this statement:
‘Given the lies that have been spread online in relation to what I said to the female officials during the Fifa Club World Cup final medals ceremony, I would like to issue a clarification.
‘I used the opportunity to congratulate them for the great job that they performed throughout the competition. This was a landmark for Fifa. The first time that female officials were appointed to, and officiated at a men’s senior Fifa competition.
‘As everyone knows, I am a strong advocate of women’s rights and equal treatment of every human being. Regardless of gender, race, ethnicity, sexual orientation, religion or physical ability. Fifa’s Statutes explicitly state that Fifa is committed to respecting all internationally recognised human rights, and shall strive to promote the protection of these rights.
‘Those who have been spreading false rumours should be ashamed of their actions.’