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Wayne Barnes, Kick It Out to find solutions to combat online abuse at SportAccord

March 14, 2024

Online abuse which has plagued the sport and society – is set for special attention at SportAccord, the year it celebrates its ‘Power of Sport’ theme. The session within the Plenary Conference on Day 4 – Thursday, 11 April  is dedicated to ground-breaking steps being taken to combat online abuse

The session will further look at the state-of-play in terms of online abuse in sport, sharing insights and learning gathered from some of the biggest sporting events on the planet, and showing how technology, sports bodies and law enforcement are working together to create a safer online environment for athletes and officials.

The panel will feature Wayne Barnes – world rugby’s most accomplished referee, who retired after the 2023 World Cup Final due to ‘next-level’ online abuse alongside

Janie Frampton OBE, Vice President, International Federation of Sports Officials (fresh from her investiture at Windsor Castle last week – where she received an OBE for her services to equality for women in sport)

Sanjay Bhandari, Chair, Kick It Out

Sarah Gregorius, Director of Global Policy & Strategic Relations, Women’s Football, FIFPRO

Jonathan Hirshler, CEO of Signify

Wayne Barnes said: “Arsene Wenger famously said that ‘We have gone from a vertical society to a horizontal society where everybody has an opinion about every decision you make…’ and though social media has given individuals the platform to have an opinion, it has also given individuals direct access to people they don’t know and may never meet. That along with a cloak of anonymity and the belief that there will be no consequences for what we say and do online, has led to a dramatic growth in online abuse over the past decade.

“We often see sport lead the way and watch society follow. Society is crying out for someone to say no longer will we accept the abhorrent abuse that has spawned out of social media. This could be a chance for sport to show how powerful it can be.”

Sanjay Bhandari MBE, Chair of Kick It Out: said: “2024 is likely to be the worst year ever for online hate, abuse and misinformation. It is more important than ever that sports work together, using the power of our collective voice, to hold social media, governments and regulators to account and to change the normalised culture of casual online hate.”

Janie Frampton OBE, Vice President of International Federation of Sports Officials said: “As an outcome of this panel, I hope when faced with any form of abuse in sport, we have the tools and skills required to deal with every eventuality.”

SportAccord 2024 info:

Meet renowned global experts in sport, industry and academia and join over 1,500 delegates and exhibitors at SportAccord World Sport & Business Summit on 7-11 April at the award-winning International Convention Centre (ICC) in Birmingham – West Midlands.

Register now:

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