Andrea Marchesi Aidar Zinnatullin Riccardo Nanni

#iononmiinginocchio: Sports Politicisation in the Italian Twitter Space. Text Data Analysis of the Italian Public Opinion

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Owing to their popularity, sports often turn into arenas for political contestation. The practice of taking the knee as a symbolic stance against racism was started in 2016 and is entrenched with the Black Lives Matter (BLM) movement. This practice generated discussions in the Italian public opinion during Euro 2020, where the ambiguous stance of the Italian soccer team contributed to the debate. This article addresses this particular case as an example of more widespread practices of antiracist contestation (and public opinion reactions thereto) in sports, approaching Italian public opinion studies from the underexplored angle of computational social science. We collected tweets featuring the hashtag #iononmiinginocchio (and its variations) throughout the duration of Euro 2020. The language used was analysed through network analysis and toxicity analysis to observe the characteristics of the debate and the rhetoric employed. This research finds that, despite politicians’ media visibility throughout the debate, the Twitter discussion was mainly driven by common citizens. In this context, a toxic language encompassing white supremacist, homophobic, and sexist remarks was often employed with a silencing effect on a wide share of the Twitter usership.


  • Black Lives Matter
  • sports politicisation
  • athlete activism
  • social media


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