English football officials said Saturday they would hold a social media blackout this coming weekend to protest “the ongoing and ongoing discriminatory abuse that players and many others have received online related to football”.
The boycott is supported by a coalition of groups including the Premier League, the richest and most famous football league in the world, but also the English Football Association. the two best professional levels in men’s and women’s football; Referee; the country’s players’ union and others.
The action is the most direct effort by a sport to date to pressure social media companies like Twitter, Instagram and Facebook to take action against online abuse. It follows a season in which players, clubs, team leaders, referees, commentators and others are active and was the target of abuse.
The social media boycott also follows a week of anger and street protests against top clubs and their owners who tried – and failed – to create a breakaway European Super League that would have sealed them off from many structures, including the pay system Sustaining football for a century. At each of the protests there were vitriolic demands on the owners of teams to sell.
Cases of harassment have been well documented online. In February, Arsenal striker Eddie Nketiah posted a picture on Twitter entitled “Work with a Smile!”
The tweet was racially abused by a Twitter user who told Nketiah, who is black, to leave the club. Twitter responded by permanently banning the user’s account, Sky Sports reported.
Such harassment was instigated not only by fans but also by the club’s social media accounts. In December, commentator and former soccer player Karen Carney deleted her Twitter account after receiving a wave of online abuse.
After Leeds United beat West Brom 5-0, Carney wondered on Amazon Prime Video Sport whether Leeds would “blow up” at the end of the season. A clip of her comment was shared on the Leeds team’s Twitter account, which dumped a lot of hateful messages for Carney.
Many on Twitter defended her and criticized the team’s social media people, including former Leeds captain Rio Ferdinand, who demanded that the tweet be deleted.
Bethany England, a Chelsea forward, called on the Leeds social media team for “cruel behavior”.
“Cyber bullies an expert and opens her up to mass online abuse for doing her job and speaking out!” England said.
In February, the top executives of the Football Association – the English Football Association – the Premier League and other organizations wrote an open letter to Jack Dorsey, CEO of Twitter and Mark Zuckerberg, CEO of Facebook, urging those responsible to do so an end to the “level of malicious, offensive abuse” emanating from users on their platforms.
“The reality is that your platforms continue to be havens for abuse,” the football managers wrote. “Your inaction has made the anonymous perpetrators believe that they are unreachable.”
In the past, Instagram, Facebook, and Twitter have taken steps such as: B. the temporary or permanent ban on users, but the problems of online abuse have continued to arise.
In a press release announcing the social media boycott, which will run from Friday afternoon through Monday, English football urged the UK to “put in place tough laws to keep social media companies out for what is on their platforms happens to make you more accountable “.
In the statement, Richard Masters, the Premier League executive director, said the league would continue to urge social media companies to make changes to prevent online abuse.
“Racist behavior of any kind is unacceptable and the appalling abuse that players receive on social media platforms must not continue,” said Masters. “Football is a diverse sport that brings together communities and cultures from all areas. This diversity strengthens competition.”
It’s not the first time football has tried to shed light on racism.
For example, players and coaches in the Premier League and other top leagues have kneeled the whole season before kick-off to support the Black Lives Matter movement – at the suggestion of the league team captains and with the support of league officials.
But some players and even entire teams who are frustrated because there is no concrete progress on racial issues and who feel that the gesture has become more performative than productive have recently stopped participating.
Crystal Palace striker Wilfried Zaha said he had come to view kneeling as “demeaning” and said he would stop and focus his efforts on other areas. Brentford, a team in England’s second division championship, stopped kneeling before the games in February. While the players said in a statement that they still support the anti-racism effort, they said, “We believe we can use our time and energy to promote racial equality in other ways.”
The social media blackout will take place while a slew of games are played across multiple leagues, including one between Manchester United and Liverpool, the defending champions of the Premier League.
Edleen John, director of international relations at the football association, said English football will not stop pushing for change after next weekend.
“It is simply unacceptable that people throughout English football and society should continue to be exposed to discriminatory abuse online on a daily basis with no real consequences for the perpetrators,” said John. “Social media companies must be held accountable if they continue to fail to fulfill their moral and social responsibilities to solve this endemic problem.”