This image of football ultras at a stadium highlights the topic of this blog: online protection in football and beyond.

Maupay’s Trolls and Mbappe’s Trademarks: Footballers and Online Protection 

Football is the most important of the least important things, according to legendary manager Carlo Ancelotti. However, among the most important things, serious issues like abuse, theft, and online infringements demand attention in all walks of life. Sadly, online attacks against high-profile targets, from CEOs to celebrities, continue to rise, and footballers are no exception. Footballing IP disputes also grab headlines, from image rights to trademarked celebrations. As the worlds of football, online threats, and digital infringements refuse to stay separate, acknowledging their interactions helps us learn more about the online protection landscape going forward. 

The recent stories circling around Neal Maupay and Kylian Mbappe open a pertinent window into the wider world of online abuse. That’s exactly what we’ll do in the following report, exploring digital threats and infringements in the beautiful game and beyond. 

Online Abuse: The Dark Side of Modern Football 

It seems as if new stories emerge every day about high-profile online abuse, from CEOs and premier league strikers alike. One recent case around French forward Neal Maupay drew attention with the seriousness of the abuse and the results that followed. 

This image of footballers playing in the dark highlights the topic of this blog: online protection in football and beyond.

Back in 2020, the Frenchman scored the winner for Brighton and Hove Albion against Arsenal, in a game where Maupay also accidentally injured the Gunners goalkeeper Bernd Leno. What followed was a torrent of online abuse that provoked club officials to advise Maupay to turn his notifications off, and even deactivate his social media accounts. Maupay often causes controversy with on-field mind games against his opponents and their fans, but nothing justifies online abuse. In the wake of the Arsenal game, social media trolls sent such concerning messages that the league’s in-house Troll Investigation team took action.  

What is Trolling? 

The term “trolling” refers to targeted harassment on social media platforms. It often includes coordinated attacks from groups of anonymized users, slinging threats, insults, and negative comments at their victims. The scary thing is, trolling can affect everyone, from high-profile targets like footballers or executives, to everyday users and their families. A variety of factors motivate trolling, from simple spite or revenge, to more nefarious goals like political unrest or corporate sabotage. Ultimately, trolling wreaks havoc on its victims, damaging reputations and careers, and even driving targets to severe mental distress. Each wave of trolling attacks delivers a knock-on impact across the community, often harming a target’s family, friends, colleagues, and more. 

Beyond threats to Maupay himself, the striker received specific and repeated threats to his family, and their safety at his place of residence. Investigators tracked these messages to a Singapore-based teenager, resulting in police intervention and a 9-month sentence. This case follows in the wake of multiple football fans receiving prison sentences for racially abusing other high-profile players and ex-pros, including targeted digital attacks on Rio Ferdinand, Ivan Toney, Bukayo Saka, Marcus Rashford, and Jadon Sancho. 

Addressing recent trends in online behavior, Maupay stated that “the abuse is 100% worse now than it was even a few years ago.” This recent episode highlights the severity of online abuse, a menace that continues to escalate across multiple industries, despite efforts from social media platforms. 

VIP and Executives: Online Protection Solutions

Clearly, digital platforms often fall short when it comes to proactive security for their high-profile users, so other groups must intervene. Not every sector comes equipped with an effective VIP protection service built into the industry, but that’s where EBRAND comes in. Our tailored VIP and Executive Protection solution recognizes the need for proactive measures, shielding corporate executives, influencers, and celebrities from online threats.  

Crucially, it’s not just trolling attacks that high-profile individuals face: they also encounter impersonations and AI-powered phishing attacks, including deepfakes and more. The Neal Maupay case exemplifies the necessity of expert intervention, and EBRAND’s solution offers a robust safeguard against the ever-growing digital risks faced by individuals in the public eye. 

Mbappe’s Trademarks: Athletes Embrace Online Protection 

Successful teams need great attackers and defenders, and equally, footballers must defend their online image as well as striking down cyberthreats. Football stars increasingly take proactive steps to protect their intellectual property online, to deter infringements and to capitalize on their achievements. For example, Kylian Mbappe recently made even more headlines than usual in anticipation of his move to Real Madrid. The French star trademarked his iconic arms-crossed goal celebration, adding to his growing portfolio of IP assets. These include signature phrases like “Moi tu m’parles pas d’age” (Don’t tell me about age) and “Le football il a changé” (Football has changed), highlighting the fact that successful brands require an array of trademarks. 

This image of a striker scoring a goal in the dark highlights the topic of this blog: online protection in football and beyond.

By registering these assets with the EUIPO, Mbappe provides online protection for his IP across the 27 EU member states. Crucially, his trademarks help him capitalize on branding across industries including cosmetic products, perfumes, jewelry, clothes, accessories, and more. This strategic move not only secures revenue for athletes but also sets a precedent for brands across industries to optimize their trademarks and brand protection strategies.  

Trademarking in Sport: A Growing Trend 

Trademarking continues to thrive in football, as Ronaldo boasts six protected brands, while Messi has four. Other notable figures like Gareth Bale, Vinicius Jr., Sané, and Depay also secured trademark privileges, and the growing trend extends past the sport and into all kinds of high-profile industries. Their active role in the management and enforcement of their personal brands underscores the importance of brand protection, particularly across developing channels online. When athletes and influencers capitalize on effective branding, anything is possible. For example, the basketballer Michal Jordan’s “Jordan” brand now comprises a tenth of Nike’s entire business model, generating $6.59 billion in 2023, up from $5.1 billion in 2022.

As athletes learn more about enforcing their IP, and the benefits they unlock for their brands, industries at large should consider similar measures to capitalize on growth and ward off potential scams. 

Online Protection for Modern Brands

This modern approach to protecting assets is not limited to football, as online infringements affect every industry. Businesses across all sectors face digital threats like counterfeiting, IP infringements, and impersonation. Whether you’re protecting your product design, or your goal celebration, brands need effective mechanisms for enforcing their IP and holding scammers to account, hence the need for Online Brand Protection. 

Online Brand Protection helps businesses track their digital presence, so they can detect, monitor, and eliminate infringements. New threat vectors call for new solutions, as brands fend off attacks from NFT scams to fake marketplaces, and even trade secrets sold on the dark web. A comprehensive solution like Online Brand Protection patrols all the channels a modern business needs to secure their assets and their revenue, while deterring cybercriminals. 

Where footballers actively manage and enforce their personal brands, industries learn valuable lessons. In the realm of brand protection, EBRAND stands as a key ally, providing the necessary tools and support for businesses to thrive in the digital age. 

Conclusion: Navigating the Digital Risks Across Industries 

In conclusion, Neal Maupay and Kylian Mbappe’s cases underscore the pressing need for Digital Risk Protection and Online Brand Protection across modern industries. Football’s proactive approach to tackling online abuse serves as a blueprint for businesses and business leaders, while strategic moves in IP trademarking highlight the importance of safeguarding personal brands. As the landscape evolves, EBRAND remains committed to providing comprehensive solutions that mitigate digital risks, tackling threats and cyberscams while boosting and protecting brands online. 

Trending Stories

Get in touch

Our experts are ready to provide you with a customized solution. Fill out the contact sheet to connect with us.


Client login

Welcome to the client login portal, where EBRAND users access their solution platforms. Select your solution below:

Not an EBRAND client yet? Sign up
Discover more on our Solutions pages