United Kingdom

English football announces total social media boycott in response to online abuse

English football will boycott social media next weekend in response to the discrimination and abuse aimed at players, pundits and other members of the footballing community.

Authorities including the Football Association, Premier League, English Football League, FA Women’s Super League, FA Women’s Championship, PFA (Professional Footballers’ Association), and Kick It Out announced the move in a joint statement.

The say it shows “English football coming together to emphasise that social media companies must do more to eradicate online hate, while highlighting the importance of educating people in the ongoing fight against discrimination”.

It comes following continuous reports of racist and other forms of abuse levelled on social media.

Earlier this month, Swansea City football club announced a week-long boycott of social media, and Thierry Henry also left the platforms due to comments posted there.

In the joint letter, the organisations said that the boycott has been scheduled to take place “across a full fixture programme in the men’s and women’s professional game and will see clubs across the Premier League, EFL, WSL and Women’s Championship switch off their Facebook, Twitter and Instagram accounts”.

The letter added: “Finally, while football takes a stand, we urge the UK government to ensure its Online Safety Bill will bring in strong legislation to make social media companies more accountable for what happens on their platforms, as discussed at the DCMS Online Abuse round table earlier this week.”

Jo Stevens MP, Labour’s shadow digital, culture, media and sport secretary, said: “The threats and racism faced by footballers on social media are appalling, but sadly, no-one is surprised by this anymore.

“The only way to make social media companies take responsibility for what appears on their platforms is criminal sanctions against senior executives. And yet, despite all their tough talk, the Conservatives have dropped them from the proposed online safety law.

“Ministers can hold as many Zoom meetings with footballers as they like, but actions speak louder than words. They have caved in to big tech lobbyists by watering down proposed legislation, as well as delaying it for more than two years. That’s how concerned they really are.”

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