Sports begins social media boycott tackle abuse and discrimination

Sports begins social media boycott tackle abuse and discrimination
English football and cricket clubs and institutions will boycott Twitter, Facebook and Instagram for four days.
London, Apr 30 (Agencies) | Publish Date: 4/30/2021 1:46:24 PM IST

Football clubs, players, athletes and a number of sporting bodies have begun a four-day boycott of social media in an attempt to tackle abuse and discrimination on their platforms.

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

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

Rugby union, cricket and rugby league have also joined the protest.

The Premier League released a statement prior to the four-day silence, saying it would not stop challenging companies “until discriminatory online abuse is removed from our game and wider society”.

“We know that a boycott alone will not eradicate this, which is why we will continue to take proactive steps to call for change,” the statement continued.

A number players posted a statement shortly before the protest began, while football clubs changed their Twitter feed icons to a blacked-out version of their logo. Leeds United midfielder Kalvin Phillips wrote: “Disappointed that we even have to be doing this. Social media should be a safe space for everyone.

“I really hope main platforms make it a priority to eradicate online abuse from their system. It’s already a problem in society, let’s do more to stop it online as well.”

Anti-discrimination charity Kick It Out says the boycott “signifies our collective anger”, with football being joined by other sports.

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

The Duke of Cambridge, who is president of the FA, has also joined, alongside seven-time Formula 1 world champion Lewis Hamilton and Williams driver George Russell. “I am fully supportive of the initiative and if me doing it helps put pressure on those platforms in order to help fight against it then, for sure, I am happy to do so,” said Hamilton.

“I am really proud to hear there are so many organisations getting involved. I am not sure why Formula 1 is not a part of that.”

Formula 1 said it was “wholly committed to combatting any form of discrimination, online or otherwise” and “supports” the sporting bodies and athletes involved in the boycott.

It is understood Formula 1 is not joining the boycott as it does not experience the same abuse issues on its social media.

The BBC said it could not take part in the campaign because of “special duties that don’t apply to other organisations under our Royal Charter and editorial guidelines that prevent us from joining lobbying campaigns”.

“We will continue to work hard, and publicly, to tackle social media abuse and to expose and challenge racism. And we’ll continue to report extensively on the impact of social media hate - and this weekend’s boycott - across our platforms,” the corporation added.


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