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Football comes together to fight online abuse

BT’s Hope United and the UEFA Foundation for Children team up to promote inclusion and eliminate discrimination ahead of the UEFA Super Cup in Belfast

UEFA Foundation and Hope United team-up to tackle online abuse ​

To raise awareness of the need to tackle online abuse and discrimination ahead of the UEFA Super Cup, BT Sport, with support from the UEFA Foundation for Children, hosted a match ahead of the UEFA Super Cup involving children aged between 14 and 17 from community projects across Northern Ireland. The aim is to help to bridge the sectarian divide and integrate refugees who have settled in the country, while also educating children on how to protect themselves and others online.

The match saw children from community projects across Northern Ireland come together
The match saw children from community projects across Northern Ireland come togetherUEFA via Sportsfile

Players from both teams were representing Hope United, supported by footballing legends and BT Sport analysts Glenn Hoddle and Joe Cole, who were acting as coaches for either side. The match was organised by the Irish FA at Crusader FC’s Seaview ground, the game was treated like a professional match in that it was filmed by six cameras and presented by Rio Ferdinand, Eni Aluko and Jake Humphrey, with Darren Fletcher and Steve McManaman in the commentary booth.

Tacking online abuse

Hope United was created by BT to combat abusive online behaviour. Backed by top internationals, such as Marcus Rashford, Eni Aluko, Lucy Bronze and Gareth Bale, the initiative also gives youngsters the digital skills needed to stay safe online.

Rio Ferdinand, England & Manchester United legend

“My work, both on and off the pitch, has taught me that there is no hiding place from social media abuse. Passions run high during big football tournaments and having seen the devastating effect that can result from online hate first-hand, it is more important than ever that sport unites to combat it.”

Rio Ferdinand is now a pundit for BT Sport
Rio Ferdinand is now a pundit for BT Sport @BT

Eleven children who took part in the match will have the honour of taking part in the UEFA Super Cup pre-match ceremony, which will see UEFA Champions League winners Chelsea FC taking on the UEFA Europa League champions, Villarreal CF at the National Football Stadium at Windsor Park on Wednesday 11 August.

The youngsters, who were selected by the Irish FA Foundation and Rio Ferdinand Foundation, will carry a Unite Against Hate banner and read a message of hope promoting respect and solidarity online.

Urs Kluser, UEFA Foundation for Children general secretary

“Young people are all too often victims of hate messages and harassment on social media and it is our duty to defend them.Thanks to the BT Tech Tips to beat online hate, young people can access real tools that teach them how to detect and respond to abuse but also learn to be more conscious about their own action online and to lead by example.”

Helping over one million children

Since the UEFA Foundation for Children was set up in 2015, around one million children have benefitted from its broad palette of activities worldwide, while it has provided support for projects in 100 countries on all five continents.

Through sport, and football in particular, the foundation is helping to give hope to children from difficult backgrounds to help them achieve their goals in life.