Italy and Liverpool striker, Mario Balotelli, has received more abuses, half of which are racist in nature, on the Internet than any other Premiership footballer and Chelsea is the most abused team, according to new research from anti-discrimination body Kick It Out.
He is followed by Arsenal striker Danny Welbeck and Liverpool’s Daniel Sturridge who have also each received more than 1,000 discriminatory messages.
According to the Telegraph, Kick It Out’s research estimates there have been 134,000 discriminatory posts this season, and 39,000 of these directed towards Premier League players.
The research was carried out by Tempero, a social media management agency, and analytics firm Brandwatch.
They looked at specific case studies including Liverpool striker Balotelli, Welbeck and Sturridge.
More than 8,000 abusive messages were directed towards Balotelli, over half of which were racist, Welbeck 1,700, of which half were racist, and Sturridge 1,600, of which 60 per cent were based on sexual orientation.
The sheer volume of racist and other abuse on social media has prompted Kick It Out to form an expert group to tackle football-related hate crime across social media, working with football, the main social media platforms, organisations dealing with internet safety and the police.
Kick It Out director Roisin Wood said: “It is really shocking. We knew there was an issue but even we were shocked by how many the players have received. For one player to have received over 8,000 abusive messages is phenomenally awful.
“You cannot accept players getting that level of abuse so we want to bring this expert group together to see how we can address this.”
“We don’t see the problem going away. Some of the perpetrators are young people and they need educating that you cannot sit in your room and abuse people like this. It is also an issue for the social media platforms and how they address this.”
The research also showed the Premier League clubs receiving the highest volume of discriminatory posts were Chelsea (20,000), Liverpool (19,000), Arsenal (12,000), Manchester United (11,000) and Manchester City (11,000).
Twitter was the most common platform for abuse with 88 per cent of messages coming in the form of tweets.
The games with the largest volume of discriminatory mentions relating to them were: Chelsea v Liverpool in the Capital One Cup on January 27, Sunderland v Manchester United in the Premier League on August 24 and Arsenal v Manchester City in the Community Shield on August 10.