Roland-Garros: the FFT will protect players against cyberbullying during the tournament

Insults, death threats… After a defeat, tennis players often have to face the wrath of frustrated bettors or disappointed fans when they consult their social networks. But attacking an athlete, even behind a screen, is punishable by law. However, the players find themselves alone in the face of this torrent of hatred, with sometimes heavy psychological consequences. Some even end up falling into depression. And meanwhile, the perpetrators of this intimidation are rarely prosecuted.

In this context, Roland-Garros has decided to react to try to eradicate this scourge for the 2023 edition of the Parisian tournament. Indeed, the French Tennis Federation (FFT) has announced the implementation of a tool to fight against cyberbullying and hate speech, which will be made available to all players involved in all tables. of the French Grand Slam.

To do this, the FFT has decided to rely on the expertise of the start-up Bodyguard, at the origin of a content moderation solution on social networks. Born in 2017, it has developed an algorithm to automatically filter hateful messages and violent comments on platforms such as Facebook, Twitter, Instagram or YouTube. “The objective is to preserve the players and their mental health in a direct or indirect way because those around them can also read these comments but also to banish people who come to spread their hatred and their aggression. Tennis is one of the most popular sports. most affected by this scourge”notes Yann Guérin, Head of Sport at Bodyguard.

As part of Roland-Garros, the French start-up will provide daily reports to the organizers, in particular to inform them of the number of messages received and deletions made, and will alert them in real time in the event of an identified attack. At the request of the FFT, it may also provide extracts from the messages and the ID of the perpetrators of hate speech in the context of legal action. “It’s great for the mental well-being of the players. It clears the mind. Everyone will be able to present themselves more freely on the court. I can’t wait to see how the players feel”rejoiced Amélie Mauresmo, the tournament director.

To benefit from this protection, players will only have to flash a QR code to connect their social networks to the Bodyguard solution. From then on, they will no longer receive public comments, which will allow them – hopefully – to experience a more serene tournament off the courts. As a reminder, online harassment is punishable by two years’ imprisonment and a fine of €30,000.

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