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Social media boycott: Football joined by sporting bodies in four-day boycott

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English football and cricket clubs and institutions will boycott Twitter, Facebook and Instagram for four days

Leading football clubs and players will be joined by a number of sporting bodies in a four-day boycott of social media platforms from Friday in a move to tackle abuse and discrimination.

The “show of solidarity against online abuse” hopes to encourage companies to take a stronger stance against racist and sexist abuse on their platforms.

Rugby union, cricket and rugby league will join football in the boycott.

It will start at 15:00 BST on Friday, and end at 23:59 BST on Monday.

“This boycott signifies our collective anger,” said Sanjay Bhandari, the chairman of anti-discrimination charity Kick it Out.

“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.”

Who is taking part?

Among the organisations boycotting Twitter, Facebook and Instagram are:

  • Football: Clubs from the Premier League, English Football League, Women’s Super League, Scottish Professional Football League and Scottish women’s football; governing bodies including the Football Association, Scottish FA, Football Association of Wales and Irish Football Association; European governing body Uefa; a number of other football organisations
  • Cricket: The England and Wales Cricket Board, first-class counties, women’s regional teams and the Professional Cricketers’ Association
  • Rugby union: England Rugby, Scottish Rugby, Welsh Rugby, Premiership Rugby, clubs and the Rugby Players’ Association
  • Rugby league: The Rugby Football League, Super League Europe, Rugby League World Cup 2021 and the Rugby League Players’ Association
  • Corporate bodies: Premier League and Women’s Super League sponsor Barclays, England sponsor Nationwide, Adidas, broadcasters Sky Sports, BT Sport and Talksport

British Cycling, British Horseracing, Great Britain and England Hockey, and the Lawn Tennis Association are also involved.

Why are they doing this?

Two years ago, a number of footballers took part in the #Enough campaign – a 24-hour social media boycott in protest at online abuse.

But players across all sports continue to be subjected to racist abuse, with some clubs contacting police over the level of aggression.

An investigation by the Professional Footballers’ Association, the players’ union, found 56 abusive posts on Twitter in November 2020.

The PFA reported them to the platform but 31 of them are still visible, which the organisation described as “absolutely unacceptable”.

Three weeks ago, Swansea City were joined by Birmingham City and Rangers in turning off their social media accounts for a week to make a stand against abuse.

Former Arsenal and France striker Thierry Henryremoved himself from social media in March because of racism and bullying across platforms.

A BBC Sport survey in August of elite British sportswomen found that one third of participants had suffered abuse on social media.

Some of football’s governing bodies laid out the changes they would like to see in a letter to Facebook and Twitter in February.

The UK government has previously threatened social media companies with “large fines”, which could amount to “billions of pounds” if they fail to tackle abuse on their platforms.

Individuals and football clubs have condemned the abuse, and it has been decided that collective action is the best way to bring about change.

Crystal Palace winger Andros Townsend told BBC Sport players are “starting to fight back”, adding the boycott will “send a warning to these companies that if you don’t start regulating your platforms, it’s going to be an indefinite blackout.”

What do the social media companies say?

Facebook, which owns Instagram, has said it is committed to tackling abuse on its platforms.

Instagram last week announced a tool to enable users to automatically filter out abusive messages from those they do not follow on the platform.

Twitter released a lengthy statement in Februaryexternal-link, stating it is “resolute in our commitment to ensure the football conversation on our service is safe for fans, players and everyone involved in the game”.

The company added it had removed more than 7,000 football-related tweets in the UK that violated its rules.



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