Welsh Rugby Union to join social media boycott in stand against racism and abuse

290421 WRU Line up
Credit: PA

The Welsh Rugby Union is to join football and other sports in boycotting social media this weekend in a unified stand against racism and discrimination.

The social media boycott begins on Friday afternoon with athletes, clubs and governing bodies from a range of sports joining forces to send a message that online abuse will not be tolerated.

Those involved - including broadcasters and sponsors with links to sport - are proposing a near-total blackout on their Facebook, Instagram and Twitter channels from 3pm on Friday until 11.59pm on Monday night.

Plans for the boycott began last Saturday, in response to a rising tide of online hate aimed at players, managers and pundits.

The WRU said in a statement it was taking part in the collective bid to "tackle online racism, discrimination and abuse."

It read: "This is a matter that the WRU takes seriously, having shed light on the abuse received by its players in the past - most recently during this year's Guinness Six Nations campaign. 

"We are aware that eradicating online abuse won't happen overnight, but we hope that this weekend's social media boycott will be the first of many steps towards doing so."

The WRU shared screenshots of online abuse against Liam Williams. Credit: PA Images

Last month the WRU highlighted the online abuse Welsh players received after their Six Nations loss to France in Paris.

They shared a selection of screenshots Liam Williams received after the game and said players wanted to highlight the abuse and "drive the call for change."

This latest boycott follows one led by Swansea City in recent weeks.

The Swans took part in a week long boycott of social media after a number of their players received abuse online.

Wales footballers Ben Cabango and Rabbi Matondo were also racially abused on Instagram last month following their friendly win over Mexico

In response the FAW said it was "disgusted" and joined calls for social media platforms to take stronger action against such abuse.

Who else is involved in the social media boycott?

The boycott was launched last weekend by football's governing bodies including the Football Association, Premier League and EFL.

The FA Women's Super League, FA Women's Championship, Professional Footballers' Association, League Managers' Association, PGMOL, Kick It Out, Women in Football and the Football Supporters' Association, will all suspend use of their social media accounts.

Since it was first announced the boycott has grown as sponsors, partners and broadcasters get on board.

Broadcasters BT Sport and talkSPORT have announced they will be joining the boycott.

English and Welsh cricket, the Lawn Tennis Association, and the Rugby Football Union have confirmed their social channels will also observe the blackout.

BT Sport says the only posts on its channels over the blackout period will relate to social media abuse while talkSPORT is also supporting the boycott. Sky Sports, a key supporter of Kick It Out, is also understood to be backing the campaign

Sponsors Adidas, Barcleys and Budweiser have also announced they will be supporting the boycott.