School of Cultural Studies and Humanities

Leeds Beckett researchers awarded funding for major project into online hate and sports events

Dr Daniel Kilvington (School of Cultural Studies and Humanities) and Dr Thomas Fletcher (School of Events, Tourism and Hospitality Management) have successfully applied to the Arts and Humanities Research Council for a project examining online hate in Football. ‘Tackling Online Hate in Football’ or ‘TOHIF’ for short, is one of eleven new research projects that have been announced by the Irish Research Council and the AHRC, part of UK Research and Innovation (UKRI), that will see the UK and Ireland bring together world-leading expertise in the Digital Humanities. TOHIF is a collaboration between Leeds Beckett, University of Brighton, Sheffield Hallam University, Ulster University and Dublin City University.

Published on 12 Aug 2021
Football match

TOHIF will explore the potential of digital technologies to transform understanding of online hate. It aims to show how online practices and experiences have the potential to shape and influence our perceptions of matters concerning racism, sexism and sectarianism. It seeks to examine social media as a site for hate speech and cultural gatekeeping in response to major media and cultural events; specifically, the men’s and women’s European Football Championships 2008-2022. 

Through analysis of online discourses, TOHIF will identify flashpoints and strategies for social media companies, policymakers and campaigners to tackle hate crime, identity politics and communication in a digital age. It will investigate how digital technologies can transform understanding of online hate. It will do this by harnessing the expertise of a multi-disciplinary project team (in arts, digital humanities and social sciences) at the forefront of tackling identity politics and communication in a digital age, revealing the extent/nature of online hate speech in football and developing tools to combat hate speech.

Critical discourse analysis on selected instances of football-related hate speech on Twitter will be paired with descriptive, content and network analysis of eight European Football Championships between 2008 and 2022. Interviews will be conducted with members of partner organisations committed to race equality, social justice and stamping out online hate.

Researchers will work with partners to develop educational workshops, policies and specific machine learning procedures in which to identify and combat online hate on social media. Such initiatives and academic outputs will be disseminated with the goal of benefiting a wide number of stakeholders in a sustainable way including but not limited to social media companies, fans, football clubs/players, policymakers and anti-hate organisations/campaigns. Project partners include Sport Against Racism Ireland, Kick it Out, Football Supporters Association, Football Association Wales and Sporting Equals.

On hearing the news, Dr Fletcher said “We are incredibly excited to work on this project. The racism aimed at some of England’s Black players following the men’s exit from the Euros earlier in the Summer only goes to emphasise the need for this innovative and important project”.

Dr Kilvington added: “This project has never been more valid and vital as year on year, discrimination directed at athletes, clubs and fans increases. It is paramount that we critically understand this phenomenon if we are to successfully tackle it. I am delighted to join Dr Fletcher and the rest of the team for this exciting, worthwhile, and impactful research project”. 


Dr Daniel Kilvington

Course Director / School of Cultural Studies & Humanities

Dan's research interests include anti-racism, social media and sport. His book 'Sport and Discrimination' draws on examples from football, rugby, cricket, tennis, climbing, the Olympics and the Paralympics to explore racism, sexism, homophobia, disability and the role of the media in both perpetuating and tackling discrimination in sport.

Dr Thomas Fletcher

Reader / School Of Events, Tourism And Hospitality Management

Dr Thomas Fletcher is Reader within the School of Events, Tourism and Hospitality Management. Tom is an interdisciplinary applied sociologist with particular interest in equality and diversity, social justice, families and fatherhood. He is committed to social justice and believes in the potential for academic work to be transformative, especially to the lives of those most vulnerable.Tom is especially concerned with how whiteness is manifest, performed, and its privileges sustained throughout all levels of society.

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