Ronaldo and Maguire headline list of most abused players on social media


Manchester United duo Cristiano Ronaldo and Harry Maguire headline the latest results of a study completed by Ofcom on the most-abused footballers on social media. 

Ofcom teamed up with The Alan Turing Institute and analysed over two million tweets directed at Premier League footballers through the first five months of the 2021/22 season.

Advanced technology was used to determine which tweets were indeed abusive and it found that 3.5% of posts directed at footballers in England’s top flight fit that bill.

Cristiano Ronaldo was the main target of abuse with over 12,000 tweets of that nature directed towards him over a span of five months from August 2021 to January 2022.

Harry Maguire, Marcus Rashford, Bruno Fernandes, Fred, Paul Pogba, Jesse Lingard, and David de Gea also featured in the list which was prominently filled with players who had featured for Manchester United that season.

Ofcom found that:

  • The vast majority of fans use social media responsibly. Of the manually-reviewed random sample of 3,000 tweets, 57% were positive towards players, 27% were neutral and 12.5% were critical. However, the remaining 3.5% were abusive. Similarly, of the 2.3 million tweets analysed with the machine-learning tool, 2.6% contained abuse.
  • Hundreds of abusive tweets are sent to footballers every day. While the proportion of abusive tweets might be low, this still amounts to nearly 60,000 abusive tweets directed towards Premier League players in just the first half of the season – an average of 362 every day, equivalent to one every four minutes. Around one in twelve personal attacks (8.6%) targeted a victim’s protected characteristic, such as their race or gender.

Ahead of Manchester United’s upcoming 2022/23 Premier League campaign which kicks-off this weekend against Brighton at Old Trafford, the Reds will be hoping for a more positive campaign for their players.