UK professional football to boycott social media over online racism

UK professional football to boycott social media over online racism
Copyright Afptv
By Mark Armstrong with AP
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Eleven UK football organizations will take part in the four-day boycott over what they see as a lack of action taken on online racial abuse.


Professional football bodies in the UK including the English Premier League are uniting in a four-day boycott of social media.

The unprecedented move aims to force digital platforms to do more to stamp out racial abuse aimed at players.

It's something many footballers in the UK support, especially those who have been targets of online hatred themselves, including Aston Villa's Tyrone Mings.

Liverpool's Naby Keita, Sadio Mane, and Trent Alexander-Arnold were also singled out for abuse after the club's defeat by Real Madrid earlier this month.

Earlier this month Liverpool manager Jurgen Klopp spoke publicly about the issue. "It's social media in general," he said.

"We obviously have the problem that so far it didn't get sorted, that people can hide behind whatever account and say what they want to say. That's a problem that really has to get sorted."

Former Tottenham Hotspur manager Jose Mourinho said: "I think it's not even a problem of education of the younger ages. I think it's for the media giants to make a decision and to make their fight. If they want to win that fight, they win it for all of us."

A total of 11 male and female football groups will take part in the action. It follows a similar campaign by Swansea City, Rangers and Birmingham City two weeks ago, after several of their players were abused on Twitter, Facebook and Instagram.

The boycott also has the support of anti-racism in football group Kick it Out. Chairman Sanjay Bhandari said: "The problem is getting worse. What it` has done is normalise [such] a climate of hate that people feel it's okay to just jump on social media, hide behind an anonymous avatar and abuse people."

Two years ago a scattered group of footballers backed the #Enough campaign over similar racist abuse online, but this latest boycott is more ambitious. It's due to come into force from 3pm on Friday, April 30, until 11.59 pm on Monday, May 3.

In a statement to Euronews, Facebook said they do not want discriminatory abuse on Instagram or Facebook.

"We share the goal of tackling it and holding people who share it accountable. We do this by taking action on content and accounts that break our rules and cooperating with law enforcement when we receive a valid legal request," a spokesperson said.

"We’re committed to fighting hate and racism on our platform, but we also know these problems are bigger than us, so we look forward to continuing our work with industry partners to tackle the issue - both on and offline.”

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