All English football clubs are going to boycott social media in the fight against online hatred and racism during the next weekend. That is what the organisations that run English football together have announced.
Clubs in the Premier League, English Football League, Women‘s Super League and Women’s Championship will not post on Facebook, Twitter and Instagram for four days as a statement against the racism that many players face. The boycott will take place next Friday and is organised in consultation with FA football association and an organization that is committed to combating racism in football.
“ Racism in any form is unacceptable, and we cannot allow players and clubs to continue to face it on social media,” says Richard Masters, the Executive Director of the Premier League. This weekend, among other things, the top duel between Manchester United and Liverpool will be on the program.
With the boycott, clubs and players want to call on the major social media companies to do more against online hatred. “We want to see significant improvements in their policies and procedures regarding discriminatory violence,” says Masters.
Last February, English football bosses already wrote a letter to Facebook Adjuster Mark Zuckerberg and Twitter Director Jack Dorsey, following a series of online racist incidents. In it, they called on the tech drivers to put in place more stringent regulations. The letter was signed by the FA and the Premier League.
In the letter they called for pre-screening of messages, so that posts with discriminatory content can still be blocked before posting. They also called on companies to do more against users who re-register with a new account after a ban.
The Premier League now notes that there has been some improvement, but there is still a “continuous stream of discriminatory messages” on social media. In addition to the boycott, the organisations are now calling on the British Government to take more stringent action on social platforms, and to hold them accountable for the reports appearing on the platforms.
Thierry Henry away from social media
Players from the Premier League were repeatedly targets of racism last year. It struck Marcus Rashford, Axel Tuanzebe and Reece James. Three weeks ago, Swansea City pulled its own accounts out of the air for three weeks to make a statement, after a number of players had been racist online. Birmingham City and Scottish Rangers Football Club followed that example.
French trainer and former prof Thierry Henry announced to stop social media at the end of March. “It‘s far too easy to create an account, harassing and harassing people with no consequences,” said Arsenal’s former striker. He spoke of “mental torture”, referring to the online hatred. Henry suggested that he return only when the social media companies have changed their policies.
Last February, the British Government threatened to impose billions of fines on platforms if they do not make enough efforts to counter and remove online hatred. A few weeks after that announcement, Facebook – also owner of Instagram – said to take more measures.