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A new Research Project, Tackling Online Hate in Football, will explore the potential of digital technologies to transform the understanding of online hate. The project is part of a ground breaking UK and Irish Research Council collaboration that has been awarded £400,000 funding. It aims to show how online practices and experiences in men’s and women’s football have the potential to shape and influence our perceptions of racism, sexism, and sectarianism.

The research team, led by Dr Mark Doidge, University of Brighton and Dr Gary Sinclair, Dublin City University, will identify flashpoints and strategies for social media companies, policymakers, and campaigners to tackle hate crime, identity politics and communication in a digital age.

Dr Katie Liston, Senior Lecturer at Ulster University and a member of Ulster’s Sport and Exercise Sciences Research Institute, will be participating in the Research collaboration, which is part of a multi-million-pound fund supporting international collaborations and that enhances the UK’s ability to build new, and strengthen existing, partnerships with global research and innovation leaders.

Project partners committed to race equality, social justice and stamping out online hate include Sport Against Racism Ireland, Kick it Out, Football Supporters Association, Football Association Wales and Sporting Equals. The team will work with these partners to develop educational workshops, policies, and specific machine learning procedures in which to identify and combat online hate on social media.

Speaking about Tackling Online Hate in Football, Dr. Gary Sinclair said,

“Sport has always been an important context through which societal understanding of issues concerning race, gender and national identity are articulated and contested. Consumption and discussion of football through social media, particularly during international football tournaments (like the recent Euro 2020 final), has increasingly become a hotbed for widespread abuse and hate crime.

“This project will work with stakeholders across sport, social media and government in the UK and Ireland to understand this problem and identify strategies and policies in which to address this societal issue through the power of sport.”

Commenting on the project, Dr Liston said,

“I am delighted to be part of an exciting multidisciplinary team with expertise in sociology, cultural studies, social media, computing science and data analytics.

“I am particularly pleased with this given the timeliness of issues around online hate, the noted changes to online behaviour over the past decade and the prominence of sport. In making this award, the two prestigious research councils have recognised that sport is an important vector through which to examine these critical issues. Our multidisciplinary strengths will be important in transforming understanding of online practices around football in the UK and Ireland as well as informing undergraduate curricula in a range of disciplines.”

For further information on the awards, visit:

For further information on the Sport and Exercise Sciences Research Institute, visit: SESRI Research Centres – Ulster University