The A-Leagues and Professional Footballers Australia (PFA) have announced a partnership with UK based safety technology company, GoBubble, which will hide hateful comments on social media channels.

The collaboration marks the first time the social media channels of an entire sporting league (all A-Leagues clubs and players) will be free from abusive, derogatory, harmful or offensive language.

A-Leagues Managing Director, Danny Townsend, commented: “Football has a unique power to connect people from all walks of life, and we want the A-Leagues to be the most welcoming and safe place at every level – in our online communities and in real life.

“There is no place for online abuse in our game, and this move is part of our duty of care to players and our fans. The GoBubble Community technology shields anyone who follows player, club and league accounts from seeing harmful abuse and keeps our communities safe.”

GoBubble Community uses machine-learning based software that monitors social media accounts to identify offensive content, alongside its AI powered automated solution that will be tailored to the sporting organisations’ use.

Founder of the firm, Henry Platten, added: “GoBubble Community is proud to be working in partnership with A-Leagues and Professional Footballers Australia, as they make a powerful stand to eradicate online hate and discrimination through the use of our innovative software.

“The A League is taking the lead to roll out use of this technology across all clubs, and we now hope to see this approach replicated by sports governing bodies across the globe. This powerful step will protect teams, players and communities from online abuse, and promote a positive and supportive virtual experience across their social channels.”

Furthermore, the company explained how online hate is a ‘growing problem’, and its technology looks to protect the wellbeing of players as well as the community of managers who run the official social media channels of football clubs.

“Social media is a powerful tool that allows players to connect and positively engage with fans, promote their careers and clubs, and share their development as people on and off the pitch,” PFA Co-Chief Executive, Kathryn Gill, concluded.

“But their presence on these platforms unfortunately exposes them to hate and abuse which has no place in our sport or society. This partnership with GoBubble Community continues our commitment to addressing the issue of online harm in partnership with the APL – and ensures we protect the wellbeing of our players and encourages positive experiences online.”

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