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EE and HateLab team up to fight online sexist hate

EE has today unveiled its Hope United squad, a team of footballers committed to combatting online sexist hate ahead of this summer’s UEFA Women’s European Championships with a series of digital skills on how to take a stand against the problem.

A recent YouGov survey commissioned by EE, has revealed that 52% of the UK public don’t feel the internet is a safe space for women, and 60% of the UK believe that not enough is being done to tackle online and offline misogyny*. Furthermore, nearly half (46%) of people who have seen or experienced online sexism didn’t do anything about it, while 63% of UK males feel men are more responsible than women for misogynistic behaviour online, compared to 70% of women.

In response to these findings, EE Hope United will bring together professional footballers to highlight the positive impact men can have by becoming allies to women during the Euros this summer, encouraging them to own and challenge the problem of sexist abuse when they see it online and elsewhere.

The EE Hope United squad will feature in a video content series sharing digital skills; free online resources that will educate on how to challenge and report online hate against women. The topics covered will include how to block accounts, report online hate, mute and filter offensive content and how to diversify your social media feed by following more female voices.

EE has also partnered with HateLab, a global hub for data and insight into hate speech and crime, to provide each player with their own personalised Hope United shirt. Using behavioural data, which scrapes information from each player’s social media account, the shirts show a visual representation of how people are talking about them online, translating emotions associated with hope (such as love, empathy or inspiration) and hate (for example, racial or gender discrimination) into a visual colour and style, creating a unique design for each squad member. The shirts will be available to purchase**, with all proceeds going to anti cyberbullying non-profit organisation Cybersmile.

This year’s squad will be managed by England head coach Gareth Southgate who has delivered an emotive appeal to men across the UK, asking them to stand together in supporting women this summer and beyond, and encouraging them to become upstanders as opposed to bystanders.

Marc Allera, CEO of EE, commented, “While the majority will be rightly giving their support to the athletes competing in the Women’s Euros this summer, there will be the vocal minority trying to denounce and discredit the women’s game.

“Now, more than ever, it is imperative we come together to champion hope over hate, placing the onus on men to own the problem: this is why EE Hope United will continue to help shape a safer online world, giving others the confidence and knowhow to help call out and put a stop to online sexist hate.”

Lucy Bronze, Hope United, commented, “As women footballers, the sad truth is that we now expect sexist abuse on a near daily basis: it has not only become an inescapable part of the game, but of a woman’s life in the public eye. But it shouldn’t be this way. This is why we are asking men to be allies of women this summer and help stamp out sexism online. It’s great to see so many from the men’s game join the squad: it gives me confidence that we can make a difference.”

Gareth Southgate, manager of Hope United, commented, “The simple fact is that men can do better. Sexism and misogyny are deplorable in any space and EE’s Hope United will make men aware that they are uniquely positioned to help bring it to an end: not only by monitoring their own behaviour but that of others and, when possible, calling it out and putting a stop to it.”

EE Hope United – full squad

  • Manager – Gareth Southgate 
  • Coaches – Rio Ferdinand and Rachel Brown-Finnis 
  • Jordan Henderson – England
  • Dan James – Wales
  • Andy Robertson – Scotland
  • Lucy Bronze – England
  • Demi Stokes – England 
  • Trent Alexander-Arnold – England
  • Rebecca Sellar – Scotland para-footballer 
  • Jamal Lewis – Northern Ireland
  • Charlie Fogarty – Northern Ireland para-footballer 
  • Lauren James – England
  • Aaron Ramsdale – England
  • Declan Rice – England
  • Caroline Weir – Scotland
  • Natasha Harding – Wales
  • Michail Antonio – Jamaica
  • Ellen White- England
  • Marissa Callaghan- Northern Ireland 

The campaign is a continuation of the Hope United initiative which launched in 2021, ahead of the UEFA European Championships. Hope United aims to tackle all forms of online hate though support for change and educating the nation on how to protect themselves online and be good digital citizens.

It contributes towards BT Skills for Tomorrow’s ambitious target to reach 25 million people with the skills they need to make the most of life in the digital world by 2025. In line with BT’s purpose to Connect for Good, the new ambition aims to help more people across the UK have the skills they need to stay connected and tackle the digital divide.

As lead partner of the four home nation football associations, EE is committed to providing new opportunities to promote digital and skills initiatives while encouraging a new generation of girls and women to participate in football.

For more information on Hope United visit:ee.co.uk/hopeunited

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