English football to stage collective social media boycott in protest against racist abuse as Premier League, EFL, WSL and Women’s Championship clubs prepare weekend-long shutdown ‘to put people in power under pressure’

The whole of English football will boycott social media for a weekend in protest against online racism.

Every club across the Premier League, English Football League, Women’s Super League and Women’s Championship will switch off their Facebook, Twitter and Instagram accounts from 3pm on Friday 30 April to 11.59pm on Monday 3 May.

Sanchez was the latest in a long line of players to suffer abuse earlier this month

The seismic move – which involves the FA, PFA, LMA, PGMOL, Kick It Out and FSA – comes after numerous players have suffered racist abuse on social media in recent months.

A long list of football stars have shared vile messages sent to them online this season and questions continue to be asked about how much is done to prevent it from the likes of Facebook, Twitter and Instagram.

Swansea and Birmingham, along with Arsenal legend Thierry Henry, have already held boycotts amid calls for online platforms to take more action and stamp out discrimination.

Premier League players have taken the knee to protest against racism this season

A joint-statement from the governing bodies read: “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.

“In our letter of February 2021, English football outlined its requests of social media companies, urging filtering, blocking and swift takedowns of offensive posts, an improved verification process and reregistration prevention, plus active assistance for law enforcement agencies to identify and prosecute originators of illegal content.

“While some progress has been made, we reiterate those requests today in an effort to stem the relentless flow of discriminatory messages and ensure that there are real-life consequences for purveyors of online abuse across all platforms.

“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.”

The football authorities are working to kick racism out of the game
Getty Images – Getty

Meanwhile, Premier League chief executive Richard Masters added: “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.”

Kick It Out chairman Sanjay Bhandari joined Weekend Sports Breakfast to talk about the plans.

He said: “We’re going into this with our eyes wide open. We’re under no illusions that the whole world is suddenly going to change because we’re having a boycott.

“It is a symbolic gesture but it is a gesture to those with power saying ‘you need to act, you need to create change’. 

“Who are the people with power here? Social media companies and governments.

“What we want to do is create a movement to create pressure on both social media and government.

“That’s why it’s important that as many people as possible join in.”