Football industry boycott aims to force social media giants to take responsibility for abuse of players and media representatives
The boycott of social media by leagues, players and other football stakeholders has drawn attention to increasing levels of hate and discrimination including abuse suffered by sports journalists such as high-profile women commentators and pundits.
On Saturday (April 20, 2021) a coordinated boycott running from Friday 30 April to midnight on Monday 3 May was announced by The FA, Premier League, EFL, FA Women’s Super League, FA Women’s Championship, PFA, LMA, PGMOL, Kick It Out, Women in Football and the FSA
Kevin Miles, Chief Executive of the Football Supporters’ Association said: “The Football Supporters’ Association is fully behind the game’s efforts to stamp out online hate and discrimination and will join next weekend’s social media boycott. Much media attention has rightly focused on the vile abuse aimed at players, managers and journalists in the men’s and women’s game and we see that aimed at fans groups too. It has to stop
Jane Purdon, CEO of Women in Football, said: “Women working across the game – as players, as coaches, as officials, in the media – can face horrendous levels of discriminatory abuse with real consequences for their well-being. Social media plays a critical role in civil society. It is vital that all can contribute to the conversations on social media with confidence, and in safety. Women in Football stands shoulder to shoulder with all people who have been affected by abuse on social media. We are united with the rest of football in calling for action to eliminate hatred online.”
The boycott has been scheduled to take place across a full fixture programme in the men’s and women’s professional game and will see clubs across the Premier League, EFL, WSL and Women’s Championship switch off their Facebook, Twitter and lnstagram accounts.
A joint statement from the organisations involved stated: ‘As a collective, the game recognises the considerable reach and value of social media to our sport. The connectivity and access to supporters who are at the heart of football remains vital.
However, the boycott shows English football coming together to emphasise that social media companies must do more to eradicate online hate, while highlighting the importance of educating people in the ongoing fight against discrimination.’
In recent weeks demands for action by social media have increased with News Media Coalition (NMC) news publications and news agencies reporting the anger felt by players, managers and sports journalists at online abuse, including threats of violence. A number of news companies have taken steps to provide welfare and mental heatlh support to journalists which have suffered abuse or felt intiminated.
The NMC took part in a major conference organised by the European Commission in March which included accounts of women journalists fearing for their safety.