Online abuse: Football’s governing bodies to hold social media boycott next weekend

Football’s governing bodies will stage a social media boycott next weekend “in response to the ongoing and sustained discriminatory abuse received online”.

The FA, Premier League, EFL, FA Women’s Super League, FA Women’s Championship, PFA, LMA, PGMOL, Kick It Out and the FSA will unite for the boycott from 3pm on Friday April 30 until 11.59pm on Monday May 3.

The action will see clubs from the Premier League, EFL, WSL and Women’s Championship switch off their Facebook, Twitter and Instagram accounts.

A joint statement on behalf of all of the organisations said: “As a collective, the game recognises the considerable reach and value of social media to our sport. The connectivity and access to supporters who are at the heart of football remains vital.

“However, the boycott 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.

“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.

“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 roundtable earlier this week.”

Premier League chief executive Richard Masters said: “Racist behaviour of any form is unacceptable and the appalling abuse we are seeing players receive on social media platforms cannot be allowed to continue.

“The Premier League and our clubs stand alongside football in staging this boycott to highlight the urgent need for social media companies to do more in eliminating racial hatred. We will not stop challenging social media companies and want to see significant improvements in their policies and processes to tackle online discriminatory abuse on their platforms.

“Football is a diverse sport, which brings together communities and cultures from all backgrounds and this diversity makes the competition stronger. No Room For Racism represents all the work we do to promote equality, diversity and inclusion and tackling discrimination.”

Facebook, which owns Instagram, has declined to comment on this story and Twitter has been contacted by Sky Sports for a response.

Instagram reveals new measures to combat social media abuse

Instagram says it empathises with footballers and clubs taking part in social media boycotts, in order to make a stand against racial abuse online.

In recent weeks a number of players, including former Arsenal striker Thierry Henry, have quit online platforms over a lack of action from technology companies, while clubs like Swansea City, Birmingham City and Rangers staged boycotts.

In response, Instagram’s policy manager, Fadzai Madzingira told Sky Sports News: “I empathise with a lot of the frustrations. I think the interesting thing with the boycotts is that in the past often boycotts are because people disagree. In this case, we are on the same side.

“We want to work towards having a platform that doesn’t have this sort of abuse on it. People shouldn’t have to deal with this sort of abuse.

“We welcome conversations on how we can continue to improve our product and how we can work on tools to make people safe.

“The whole point of social media is making sure people do have a voice to make a stand. From our side, we recognise this is part of a wider conversation to raise awareness.”

Hate Won’t Stop Us

Sky Sports is committed to making and our channels on social media platforms a place for comment and debate that is free of abuse, hate and profanity.

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If you see a reply to Sky Sports posts and/or content with an expression of hate on the basis of race, colour, gender, nationality, ethnicity, disability, religion, sexuality, age or class please copy the URL to the hateful post or screengrab it and email us here.

Kick It Out reporting racism

Online Reporting Form | Kick It Out

Kick It Out is football’s equality and inclusion organisation – working throughout the football, educational and community sectors to challenge discrimination, encourage inclusive practices and campaign for positive change.

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