English football to boycott social media for four days in bid to tackle online racism

The boycott aims to put pressure on digital platforms to work harder to eradicate online hate. Credit: PA

Top-flight football in England is uniting against racial abuse of players by staging a four-day boycott of social media.

The aim of the protest is to put more pressure on the owners of popular digital platforms to work harder to eradicate online hate.

Altogether 11 bodies across the men's and women’s games will take part in the action which 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.

Rangers midfielder Glen Kamara revealed to ITV News at the time that barely a day went by when he wasn’t racially abused.

The FA, The Premier League, The EFL, The Women’s Super League and Championship, Women in Football, Kick it Out, the Football Supporters Association and the organisations representing managers, match officials and players will all turn off their digital feeds at 3pm on Friday, April 30.

Premier League Chief Executive Richard Masters said he hoped the protest would "highlight the urgent need for social media companies to do more in eliminating racial hatred".

He said: "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."

This includes filtering, blocking and swift removals of offensive posts, an improved verification process and re-registration prevention, plus active assistance for law enforcement agencies to identify and prosecute originators of illegal content. 

The group is also encouraging the UK government to ensure that legislation introduced in the Online Safety Bill makes social media companies more accountable for what happens on their platforms.

The football family has come together already this week to defeat the ill-fated European Super League; it's hoping for similar success with this united front or at the very least todemonstrate there is a commitment from within the game to tackle the scourge ofracism that seems, if anything, to be on the increase.