USWNT: The Most Targeted Group for Harassment in 2023

I composed a column on Monday relating to the aversion of the Kansas City Chiefs. It was rather light-hearted, with no one facing any accusations of wrongdoing, and was mostly me complaining about Patrick Mahomes throwing a tantrum at the end of Sunday’s game and being unable to escape Travis Kelce wherever I go. A man commented on my Instagram saying, “What a miserable see you next Tuesday,” and “I hope AI takes your job.” Most of the comments I receive from men online since 2015 consist of gendered slurs, body shaming, and violent threats about my death or injury. The reality for women expressing an opinion about anything, or even just existing, on the internet includes dealing with such abusive comments.

It is unsurprising that a new FIFA & FIFPRO report revealed that one in five players of the 2023 Women’s World Cup were targeted with online abuse during the tournament, with members of the USWNT experiencing the most harassment. Nearly half of the 5 million verified messages studied were discriminatory or abusive in nature. The report outlined that over 150 individual players received discriminatory, abusive, or threatening messages, with sexual, sexist, or homophobic comments being the most common. The largest portion of the abuse was sexualized, followed by homophobic, misogynist, and racist comments.

It appears that despite growing popularity of women’s sports and increasing female participation, female athletes still face significant online abuse. Female athletes should consider staying out of their mentions to avoid this abuse.

It’s unsettling to think that young women, who are breaking barriers their elders never had a chance at, are facing such hostility when they should be celebrated. I hope to see all of them on the world stage one day, showing people what it truly means to “play like a girl.” And their fathers should defend them against the trolls who come for them.