Technology will expose identities of racist trolls who hurl abuse at players 


Technology hailed as a ‘game-changer’ will expose identities of racist trolls who hurl abuse at players after likes of Raheem Sterling, Tammy Abraham and Paul Pogba were all targeted

  • New technology will expose identities of those who racially abuse players online 
  • The technology has been described as a potential ‘game-changer’ by Kick It Out 
  • Around a third of Premier League clubs have been contacted about the project 

Social media trolls who hurl racist abuse at footballers will be left with no hiding place under a revolutionary high-tech initiative that strips away their anonymity.

The technology, hailed by anti-racism groups as a game-changer in the fight against discrimination, could be rolled out as early as next season, naming and shaming scores of perpetrators who use anonymous accounts on platforms like Twitter and Instagram to fire racist and homophobic insults at BAME players.

Around a third of Premier League clubs have already been contacted about signing up to the project, named Threat Matrix and developed by London digital technology group Signify which helped tackle anti-Semitism in the Labour Party and are now taking their sophisticated software into the sports market. 

Raheem Sterling and Tammy Abraham have been targeted by anonymous online abuse 

Social media trolls who hurl racist abuse at footballers will be left with no hiding place

Social media trolls who hurl racist abuse at footballers will be left with no hiding place 

A plethora of players, including Chelsea’s Tammy Abraham and Manchester City’s Raheem Sterling, have been targeted by anonymous online abuse. Now, as a result of Signify’s technology which can uncover the identities of abusers without breaking privacy laws, culprits could be called out.

The company is offering clubs a £5,000-a-month service, and chief-executive Jonathan Hirshler, who co-founded it with former journalist Jonathan Sebire, said: ‘A number of clubs have shown huge interest and we’re looking to get something up and running for next season. We are also in advanced talks with FIFA over running a pilot study to cover international football.’

The technology has been hailed as a potential 'game-changer' by anti-racism group Kick It Out

The technology has been hailed as a potential ‘game-changer’ by anti-racism group Kick It Out

Live trials have already been carried out with one London-based Premier League club and Sebire told The Mail on Sunday: ‘We can identify types of abuse, provide evidence of where it is coming from and, sometimes by deep-dive investigation, who it is coming from. We can capture it before it’s reported.

‘In the long-term, if it becomes known we have the technology, we hope we can help lower the amount of online abuse. But it can only happen if the clubs buy into it.’

Sanjay Bhandari, the head of Kick It Out, is backing a pilot programme for up to eight clubs next season. ‘Why does online abuse proliferate? Because of anonymity and the feeling of being able to act with impunity,’ he said. ‘It’s like the Wild West on social media. This could be a game-changer and I would seriously advise clubs to buy into it.’



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