EXCLUSIVE By LAURIE STONE >>> www.sportradar.com

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Data specialists crack down over vile messages posted on social media




ABUSIVE trolls who have attacked tennis players on social media have been traced to the UK.
Two haters from Bristol, one based London and another also in the UK, were among a group of 21 culprits from 12 different countries who targeted players taking part in tournaments in Germany and the US.
Their names and their vile and sickening messages have been handed over to the authorities after an investigation by Sportradar Intelligence & Investigation Service, which has just launched an industry-first solution to safeguard professional sportsmen and women from online abuse.

Their names and their vile and sickening messages have been handed over to the authorities after an investigation by Sportradar Intelligence and Investigation Services, which has just launched an industry-first solution to safeguard professional sportsmen and women from online abuse.

Among the victims of this latest abuse were Jamaican-American Dustin Brown, 35, who has twice beaten Spanish superstar Rafael Nadal, including in a shock Wimbledon upset in the second round five years ago.

Other targets were the former world number one ranked junior, Taylor Townsend, 24, from America, who was singled out by six of the identified abusers, and 25-year-old German-born Benjamin Hassan.

In total, Sportradar, the world’s leading sports data supplier, analysed around 70 shocking messages aimed at the players that had come from troll or ‘burner’ accounts, many of them from punters betting on the two tournaments.

These included:
• Wish you have died from coronavirus, n…. slut
• You are such a piece of s…. Are you f…. serious. Ur parents must be so ashamed. Just go and put an end to it. F…. losing money because some spoiled b….. doesn’t feel like playing
• You fat pig n… c…
• F… fat going out with coronavirus outside u can die you dumb bitch
Brown, Townsend and Hassan worked with Sportradar and PlaySight, another sports data and tech company, to compile the dossier of abuse which has been handed over to the authorities.

Sportradar’s MD of Integrity Services, Andreas Krannich

Townsend said: “People attack all points. Anything that they can come for that they think is a weakness. Body image, my race, my skin colour – anything that they can try to attack you with or feel would be a sensitive subject.”
Hassan said: “They’re calling me a f….g Muslim terrorist.”
After every loss, Hassan estimates that he gets sent seven or eight vitriolic messages.
He reveals the sort of abuse he’s become accustomed to receiving on social media over the course of his playing career.
“My whole family should die; I will see you in your next tournament; I’m gonna kill you; f**k you, you die of cancer; I hope you die in an accident.”
Sportradar’s Intelligence & Investigation Service uncovered the social media accounts belonging to the abusers through their Facebook and Instagram handles. Their expert analysts then tracked down the real names, locations and telephone numbers of the trolls.
Andreas Krannich, managing director of Sportradar Integrity Services, explains: “The abusive trolls didn’t waste any time in spreading their vile comments through social media as these tennis tournaments were among the first sporting events to take place as lockdown restrictions started to ease around the world.

“There has been a growing trend among sportsmen and women that they have finally had enough of the abuse and we at Sportradar thought of ways to help.

“At first it was a question of vetting the trolls to see if they were a clear and imminent threat – but then we quickly realised that raising awareness of the issues the players faced was even more important.

“And now we have developed a system to get these trolls to the relevant authorities.

“Sportradar has been working in partnership with PlaySight, who provided the raw messages, and in the majority of cases, our Intelligence & Investigation Services tracked down, the real-life people behind the troll accounts.

“As far as we know this is the first time that players have worked with an independent data specialist and our Intelligence & Investigation division to try to nail the trolls.

“The UK trolls have been reported to the police and any Law Enforcement agencies are welcome to contact us for information in the future.”

Krannich added: “Our player protection service has previously been available on an ad-hoc basis for all the biggest sports federations but also for leagues and clubs around the world and since its official launch last week there has been interest from major leagues globally.
“It’s designed to protect the mental health and wellbeing of professional athletes by keeping them free from harm online and providing peace of mind by discouraging future trolling and abuse through successful investigation, proactive intervention and disruption.
“It will act as a deterrent to future online abuse and create real change, particularly when people see the impact it has.
“We have had an incredible response from the public, athletes and now federations, who are interested in this service.
“This is just the beginning – first, we identify and report, then we will move to the prevention phase. This is exactly how we started with our world-leading Fraud Detection System, which combats match-fixing.”
The Tennis Integrity Unit (TIU) has reported all the accounts that were investigated to the relevant social media companies.

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