FIA UAOA survey unveils alarming insights: 90% of Federations agree that sporting figures are at risk of withdrawing due to online abuse, urging immediate collaborative action


FIA announces preliminary findings based on responses from 22 International and National Governing Bodies reporting the extent of online abuse in sport.

As the world becomes increasingly digitalized, the rate of online abuse proliferates, particularly within the sporting ecosystem. In mid-October, the FIA’s United Against Online Abuse (UAOA) campaign launched its first call for sporting bodies to gauge the consequences of online abuse in sport across 35 key metrics.

Led by the FIA University Research Team, respondents were required to evaluate the direct and indirect impact of online abuse and discuss how a coherent response to the scourge of online toxicity may be shaped and measured. The collected insights are integral to the campaign’s commitment to delivering tangible change by forming the evidential basis to lobby key stakeholders for action, advocacy, and investment.

See the following press-release for more details regarding the initiatives launch.

Key Survey Findings

Whilst ‘online abuse’ covers a plethora of mechanisms such as cyber-bullying, doxing and trolling, the survey highlighted that the most common form of online abuse suffered by competitors and others engaged in sport is ‘flaming’ – the sending of threatening, abusive or rude messages to an identified target.

In fact, 90% of respondents ‘strongly’ or ‘rather’ agreed that online abuse directed at competitors had the potential to result in them withdrawing from participating altogether if not addressed. This is not an uncommon practice given several high-profile case studies in online media.

Nine out of 10 respondents believe that online service providers ‘should, under certain circumstances, be obliged by law to detect, remove and report online abuse in sport.’ There is also the call for federations to further support the behavioural development of key stakeholders engaged in this ecosystem.

To support this call, in 2023, the FIA launched a series of trial workshops dedicated to educating young athletes on how to define online abuse, protect themselves on online platforms and manage changing environments as up-and-coming competitors in order to improve their digital literacy skills.

Having received commendation from the coalition’s partners and target audiences, the programme will be expanded in 2024 with an official educational model translated into several supporting languages across other sporting disciplines and governmental institutions.

In conclusion, 85% of respondents overwhelmingly supported the need for a collaborative approach to tackling this pervasive issue in the sports community, providing a resounding endorsement for the work the United Against Online Abuse campaign continues to undertake. Moving forward, this coalition remains dedicated to advocating and establishing frameworks to foster behavioural and regulatory change across the industry.

However, great change is created in unity with others.

The FIA, therefore, welcomes the participation of all sporting federations, national governments, regulatory bodies, and technological providers to join the collaborative movement. To learn more information on how you can contribute to the mission please contact the UAOA Project Manager, Erin Bourke, at  

Professor David Hassan, Principal Investigator for the UAOA Research Study, commented that “The results from this survey, even at an early stage, indicate that many international and national governing bodies of sport share common concerns about the prevalence, toxicity, and direct impact of online abuse upon their participants, officials, and volunteers. They offer overwhelming support for a collaborative approach to tackling this issue and call upon social media platforms to play an active role in resolving both one of sport’s most insidious, yet existential, challenges of modern times.”