June 15, 2021

Premier League, English soccer announce social media boycott in response to racist abuse

Soccer clubs across England will join together to boycott social media at the start of May in response to the ongoing racist abuse that players, coaches and officials face online. 

The Football Association and Premier League are among the soccer organizations who announced they will suspend their use of Facebook, Twitter and Instagram from 3 p.m. BST (10 a.m. ET) on Friday, April 30 until 11:59 p.m. BST (6:59 p.m, ET) on Monday, May 3. 

According to a joint statement released on Saturday, the boycott shows “English football coming together to emphasize that social media companies must do more to eradicate online hate while highlighting the importance of educating people in the ongoing fight against discrimination.”

The announcement follows social media boycotts from Birmingham, Rangers and Swansea in recent weeks.

In February, clubs wrote letters to social media companies requesting them to take action against abusive and racist posts online. 

“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,” the clubs said.

The announcement includes several statements from various club leaderships directly calling out the government and social media companies for their lack of regulation that has led to the ongoing hate players, coaches and officials receive online. 

“While football takes a stand, we urge the UK Government to ensure its Online Safety Bill will bring in strong legislation to make social media companies more accountable for what happens on their platforms, as discussed at the DCMS Online Abuse Roundtable earlier this week.”

Premier League Chief Executive Richard Masters said: “Racist behavior of any form is unacceptable and the appalling abuse we are seeing players receive on social media platforms cannot be allowed to continue.”

Trevor Birch, Chief Executive of the EFL, said: “EFL clubs have expressed a clear desire to take a united stand against abhorrent racist, discriminatory, and threatening abuse on social media platforms which we fully support alongside the rest of the football family. 

“The boycott is only part of the work being undertaken in this area but further highlights the need for social media companies to take additional responsibility for the inappropriate and unwelcome behavior that appears on their platforms. “

Contact Analis Bailey at aabailey@usatoday.com or on Twitter @analisbailey.