FIA’s anti-abuse white paper “commendable”, says author | Championships
The 14-page document is the work of Dr. David Hassan – Professor and Associate Dean of Sport Management and Policy at Ulster University Magee Campus in Londonderry.
Titled “A Strategic Response to Online Hate Speech in Sport,” it sets out a six-point plan to combat what the Federation Internationale de l’Automobile (FIA) has identified as an “existential threat.”
Commissioned by FIA President Mohammed Ben Sulayem, the white paper is considered a “significant milestone” and has already been distributed to the FIA’s 241 member clubs in 146 countries.
The blueprint sets out the “sustainable and collaborative approach” the FIA intends to take in “managing online toxicity” as it believes it has now reached “unbearable proportions”. It follows the findings of a working group on online abuse set up specifically for the project.
Results showed that across the European Union, around 80% of people surveyed confirmed that they had encountered some form of online hate, with 40% of participants saying they were frightened by online posts they had seen or were threatened.
dr Hassan – who has been a member of the FIA’s Strategic Task Force since 2013 after being appointed by the World Motor Sport Council – says the motorsport governing body acted quickly to address the matter.
“The leadership that the FIA has taken in first highlighting and then responding to this issue, which is problematic in all sports, is commendable,” he said.
“His partnership with Arwen, for example, has had a significant impact in reducing online hate speech on his own social media channels.
“By the end of January – after five months of collaboration between the FIA and Arwen – the number of toxic comments posted on the FIA’s channels had fallen by 66.6%.
“I believe the FIA has recognized that the sport’s image as more inclusive and diverse – a truly global one – is threatened by incidents of hate speech and the federation accepts that it cannot be a mere spectator on these matters – it must getting actively involved as part of the solution,” he added.
President Ben Sulayem first brought forward the FIA’s pledge to tackle “digital hatred” at an event in Italy last December, where he called for a collaborative approach with various sporting codes.
This has since led to partnerships with the Fédération Internationale de Motocyclisme (FIM) and initial talks with Thomas Bach – President of the International Olympic Committee – and FIFA President Gianni Infantino.
“The ongoing online toxicity has reached an unfortunate level. We will no longer tolerate this extreme abuse of volunteers, officials, employees and drivers,” said Ben Sulayem at the World Motor Sport Council strategy meeting in Bahrain last week.
“It has no place in our sport and if it continues like this it could destroy it. We will take a collaborative approach to tackling this scourge of our sport and others – we are united against abuse.”