English Leagues to Boycott Social Media over Racism

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By Adedapo Adesanya

Football leagues in England have joined forces to boycott social media next weekend in response to continued online racist abuse of players.

The boycott will take place across a full fixture programme in the men’s and women’s professional game from 3 p.m. local time (1400 GMT) on Friday, April 30 to 11:59 p.m. on Monday, May 3.

Clubs across the Premier League, English Football League, Women’s Super League and Women’s Championship will switch off their Facebook, Twitter and Instagram accounts to emphasise that social media companies must do more to eradicate online hate.

According to the Chief Executive Officer of the Premier League, Mr Richard Masters, “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,” he further said.

A host of players at Premier League clubs have been targeted in the past few months, including Manchester United’s Anthony Martial and Marcus Rashford, Liverpool’s Trent-Alexander Arnold and Sadio Mane, and Chelsea’s Reece James.

Championship (second-tier) sides Birmingham City and Swansea City and Scottish champions Rangers recently held week-long boycotts following a spate of racial attacks on their players.

Former Arsenal striker Thierry Henry said last month he was removing himself from social media because of racism and bullying, while Liverpool captain Jordan Henderson has handed over control of his accounts to an anti-cyberbullying charity.

In February, English football bodies sent an open letter to Facebook and Twitter, urging blocking and swift takedowns of offensive posts, as well as an improved verification process for users.

Facebook-owned Instagram has announced new measures and Twitter vowed to continue its efforts after taking action on more than 700 cases of abuse related to football in the United Kingdom in 2019.

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