Thursday 18 April 2019

England’s loss to Croatia, as told by fans’ use of the f-bomb online

Analyst Guy Peters’ findings give a novel take on the World Cup defeat.

(Martin Rickett/PA)
(Martin Rickett/PA)

By Edd Dracott, Press Association

A social media data expert has produced a novel way of reflecting upon England’s defeat to Croatia in the semi-final of the World Cup – by tracking uses of the f-bomb.

Guy Peters, who works for The Honey Partnership in London, analysed over 40,000 comments from a thread on Reddit dedicated to the match and plotted the use of the word “f***” over time on a graph.

(Guy Peters)

Guy has annotated the graph to show points of interest during the match that caused spikes of the swear word’s use, such as Keiran Trippier’s free kick goal and Mario Mandzukic’s extra time winner two hours later – the peak of the f-bomb’s usage.

“The most interesting thing here is you can follow what’s happening in a game so clearly and notice what the key moments are just by picking up on one word,” Guy told the Press Association.

Other spikes annotated include “general moaning about the referee”, “general whining and pleading” prior to the final whistle and “post match hatred”, which Guy said add a more “comedic story” to the data.

England dejected after defeat to Croatia

“The word ‘f***’ is used mainly during the extreme moments but both for good and bad you get these really clear peaks,” said Guy.

“If you scroll through the data you can see that actually a lot of these peaks aren’t because England fans are saying “oh for f*** sake” but it’s fans from other countries saying ‘f*** you England’.”

(Tim Goode/PA)

“I’ve only captured a small fragment of what was said,” said Guy. “In future, I plan to capture more so we can see more and I think the results will be even more telling.

“Considering that almost 4% of all comments contained just the word f***, doesn’t take into account those that contained other swear words.

“Looking at the word ‘f***’ showcases that animalistic side to football, the aggression between countries and the ferocity of national pride.”

Press Association

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