'Simply unacceptable': English football to boycott social media over racist hate

24 April 2021, 22:01 | Updated: 24 April 2021, 22:11

Football bodies are boycotting social media over online hate
Football bodies are boycotting social media over online hate. Picture: PA

By Will Taylor

The Premier League and FA will join other football institutions in boycotting social media for a weekend in "collective anger" at abuse and racism received by players.

The groups said it showed English football was united in the belief that social media companies "must do more" to stamp out hate, including racist messages, online.

They have called for other groups and people in the game to join in.

The boycott is timed over a weekend of fixtures in the men's and women's games, and follows clubs like Swansea City, Birmingham City and Rangers choosing to step away because of racism online.

The English Football League, which organises the leagues below the Premier League, the Women's Super League, and FA Women's Championship will join with the Football Supporters' Association and equality group Kick It Out in the act, along with player, manager and referee groups.

The boycott will start at 3pm on Friday April 30 and run to just before midnight at the end of Monday May 3.

The groups have reiterated they want social media companies to filter, block and quickly remove offensive posts, improve verification of accounts and help police as they look to track online trolls.

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Players have been taking the knee to show support for the fight against racism
Players have been taking the knee to show support for the fight against racism. Picture: PA

"Boycott action from football in isolation will, of course, not eradicate the scourge of online discriminatory abuse, but it will demonstrate that the game is willing to take voluntary and proactive steps in this continued fight," the groups said.

They also called on the Government to ensure social media companies are accountable for what happens on their platforms.

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Sanjay Bhandari, Kick It Out Chair, said: "Social media is now sadly a regular vessel for toxic abuse. This boycott signifies our collective anger at the damage this causes to the people who play, watch and work in the game.

"By removing ourselves from the platforms, we are making a symbolic gesture to those with power. We need you to act. We need you to create change."

Edleen John, The FA's Director of International Relations, Corporate Affairs and Co-Partner for Equality, Diversity and Inclusion, said: "It's simply unacceptable that people across English football and society more broadly continue to be subjected to discriminatory abuse online on a daily basis, with no real-world consequences for perpetrators.

"This needs to change quickly, and we continue to urge social media companies to act now to address this.

"We have recently seen how powerful it can be when everybody is united for the good of the English game.

"We are calling on organisations and individuals across the game to join us in a temporary boycott of these social media platforms, to show solidarity and unite in the message that English football will not tolerate discrimination in any form."