There will be no Facebook, Twitter, or Instagram posts from Football clubs, players, and a number of sporting bodies as they have begun a four-day boycott of social media in an attempt to tackle abuse and discrimination on their platforms.
They are demanding immediate suspension of any social media account involved in the racist posts. The boycott will end on Monday at 23:59 British Standard Time (BST).
Prince William, who is president of the FA, has also joined the boycott. Formula One champion Lewis Hamilton, who is the only Black driver on the grid, announced he wouldn’t post during the Portuguese Grand Prix weekend. The International Tennis Federation joined the boycott in the hope it stops vile abusive messages, including death threats, being sent to players, coaches and officials.
The head of equalities at the Professional Footballers’ Association (PFA), Simone Pound said players were abused on social media because of their color. He said the PFA had led a 24 hours boycott in 2019, called the “Enough” campaign- demanding tougher action against social media account holders who are abusing players and teams. He said despite protests, Social media companies like Facebook or Twitter have not adopted a zero-tolerance policy. “For Facebook-owner Instagram, a racist post isn’t enough to get a user immediately suspended,” he said.
The boycott started as managers were holding news conferences ahead of the weekend’s matches. Nuno Espirito Santo of Wolverhampton, who is the only Black manager in the Premier League, flagged issues about withdrawing from public information platforms.
Ryan Mason, the interim coach of Tottenham, was abused on social media after he suffered a fractured skull which forced him to retire at age 26 in 2018. “Even after I retired I’d get messages about my injury and certain things, and you almost think it’s another message and I’ll just ignore it. But these things shouldn’t be acceptable,” Mason said.
In response to the boycott, Twitter said that since the English soccer season started in September 2020 it had removed 7,000 of the 30 million Tweets in the UK about football.“Racist behaviour, abuse and harassment have absolutely no place on our service and alongside our partners in football, we condemn racism in all its forms,” a Twitter spokesperson said.
A Facebook spokesperson said: “We also recently announced that starting next week, we’ll provide new tools, based on consultation with footballers and anti-discrimination experts, to help prevent people seeing abusive messages from strangers.
“We continue to work with UK police on hate speech, and respond to valid legal requests for information, which can be essential for investigations. We’ll continue listening to feedback and keep fighting hate and racism on our platform.”