Tuesday, June 15

English football leads the boycott against racism on social media

English football leagues, clubs and players launched a four-day boycott of social media platforms on Friday to protest racist abuse.

Such is the anger throughout the game that there will be no goal clips, lineup announcements, inter-club jokes, or even title celebrations. This means that if Manchester City take home the Premier League trophy on Sunday, they will not celebrate the title on social media.

Who is boycotting?

Initially there was a joint boycott announcement by the English Football Association, the Premier League, the English Football League, the Women’s Super League, the Women’s Championship, as well as the bodies of players, coaches and referees, the anti-discrimination group Kick It Out and the group Women in Football.

Before the boycott that starts at 1400 GMT on Friday until 2259 GMT on Monday, other English sports such as cricket, rugby, tennis and horse racing said they would keep quiet on social media.

British broadcasters FIFA, UEFA and the Premier League also said they will not post online for four days.

Other personalities participate, including politicians and Prince William.

“As president of the FA (Soccer Association), I join the entire soccer community in boycotting social media this weekend,” he said. wrote on Twitter.

The U.S. women’s national team also announced that their social media accounts will not cover English-language games involving US players this weekend “in recognition and support” of the boycott.

Why protest?

The English players’ union led a movement to boycott social media for 24 hours in 2019, called the “Enough” campaign, to demand tougher action to stop sending hate online to its members. It has not arrived, without zero tolerance. For Facebook owner Instagram, a racist post is not enough for a user to be immediately suspended.

“It’s terrible,” said Simone Pound, director of equality for the Professional Footballers Association (PFA). “When we first went to them after the Enough campaign, I had lots and lots of examples of the abuse that players are getting. We had (Leicester captain) Wes Morgan in the room speaking on a personal level. There was the N word everywhere, monkey emojis everywhere and they said, ‘We’re so sorry. It does not contravene the guidelines of our community. ‘

It hasn’t improved much after two years, according to Pound.

“Since we met with them, they appreciate that it is not a good enough answer or answer,” Pound said. “However, we are still watching and we know that those words, those emojis are used in a horrible way, every day for gamers and they are not always quickly removed. Sometimes, they are still up six months after being reported.”

Instagram’s moves to stamp out racism have focused on action against abusive direct messages rather than public posts.

Twitter inaction

The PFA found that 31 of the 56 racist and discriminatory tweets remain live on Twitter as of Thursday despite reporting them last year. Like Facebook, Twitter would not provide anyone with an interview to discuss claims that they are strengthening movements to eliminate discriminatory content and abusive users.

A study by the anti-discrimination network Fare with Belgium-based artificial intelligence company Text found that 157 players who participated in all eight Champions League tournaments and the Europa League final last August received discriminatory abuse on Twitter.

Six months later, 66 percent of discriminatory tweets remained online, as did 71 percent of accounts, Fare said, noting that while ethnic minority players receive more racist abuse, homophobic abuse is sent to players. players throughout the game.

Government action

The British government is introducing a law to address online safety that could lead to social media companies being fined for failing to crack down on racism.

“We could see fines of up to 10 percent of global annual turnover,” Culture Secretary Oliver Dowden wrote in the Friday editions of The Sun newspaper. “For a company like Facebook or YouTube, it could be billions.”

Club reaction

Manchester United announced on Friday that six fans were suspended for racially abusing Tottenham forward Son Heung-min on social media. United also found in a review of Twitter, Instagram and Facebook that 3,300 abusive posts were directed at their players between September 2019 and February 2021.

Chelsea also said on Friday that a supporter had been suspended for 10 days for anti-Semitic posts.

Whats Next?

The PFA is bracing for more social media blackouts.

“Personally, I think this could be the first in a series of boycotts,” Pound said. “We can do this every week if necessary. This is not going to go away. They have to listen to us.”


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