— Sports

EXPLAINER: English soccer leads social media racism boycott

No goal clips, lineup announcements, banter between clubs, or title celebrations will exist.

Four days of silence across Twitter, Facebook, and Instagram by soccer leagues, clubs, and players in England began on Friday to protest against racist abuse that has been widely adopted.

Such is the anger across the game; if Manchester City clinches the Premier League trophy on Sunday, it will not celebrate the title on social media.


Initially, there was a joint boycott announcement by the English Football Association, Premier League, English Football League, Women’s Super League, Women’s Championship, player, manager, referee bodies, and anti-discrimination group Kicks It Out and the Women In Football group. Ahead of the boycott beginning at 1400 GMT on Friday through 2259 GMT Monday, other English sports, including cricket, rugby, tennis, and horse racing, said they would fall silent on social media. FIFA, UEFA, and the Premier League’s British broadcasters also said they wouldn’t post online across four days.


The English players’ union led a move to boycott social media for 24 hours in 2019 – called the “Enough” campaign – to demand tougher action to stop hatred being sent online to their members. It hasn’t come, with no zero tolerance. For Facebook-owner Instagram, a racist post isn’t enough to get a user immediately suspended.

“It’s dreadful,” said Simone Pound, head of equalities at the Professional Footballers’ Association (PFA). “When we first went to them after the Enough campaign, I had reams and reams of examples of the abuse players are receiving. We had (Leicester captain) Wes Morgan in the room talking from a personal level. There was the N-word everywhere, monkey emojis, and they w, ere like, ‘We’re sorry. It doesn’t contravene our community guidelines.’”

Not much has improved after two years, according to Pound.

direct messages more than public posts.


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

A study by the anti-discrimination Fare network with Belgium-based artificial intelligence company Text found that 157 players involved in the Champions League and Europa League final eight tournaments last August received discriminatory abuse on Twitter. Six months later, 66% of biased tweets remained online, as did 71% of the accounts, Fare said, pointing out that while ethnic minority players receive more racist abuse, there is homophobic abuse sent to players across the game.


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% of annual global turnover,” Culture Secretary Oliver Dowden wrote in Friday’s editions of The Sun newspaper. “For a company such as Facebook or YouTube, that could be billions.”


Manchester United announced on Friday that six fans had been banned for racially abusing Tottenham forward Son Heung-min on social media. United also found in a Twitter, Instagram, and Facebook review that 3,300 abusive posts were aimed at its players between September 2019 and February 2021. Chelsea also said on Friday that a supporter had been banned for ten days for antisemitic posts.


The PFA is preparing for more blackouts on social media.

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


More AP soccer: https://apnews.com/hub/soccer and https://twitter.com/AP_Sports

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Molly Aronson

I'm an award-winning blogger who enjoys all things creative but is especially passionate about lifestyle design. I blog over at mehlogy.com I love that I get to share my passion for healthy living, fashion, fitness, and travel with readers from all over the world.

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