Social media boycott: Professional Footballers' Association asks players to add 'collective voice and influence'

Football's governing bodies to unite for three-day social media boycott this weekend; FA, Premier League, EFL, Women's Super League, FA Women's Championship, PFA, LMA, PGMOL, Kick It Out and the FSA will not post during boycott; suspension to last from 3pm on Friday to 11.59pm on Monday

social media

The Professional Footballers' Association has written to all its members asking them to add their "collective voice and influence" in support of this weekend's boycott of social media sites.

The Premier League, Women's Super League, the EFL, League Managers' Association and Kick It Out, along with the PFA, will all switch off their social media channels from 3pm on Friday April 30 until 11.59pm on Monday May 3 "in response to the ongoing and sustained discriminatory abuse received online".

The PFA released a statement on Monday in which it urged players to follow suit, with the organisation also calling on major brands and sponsors to join the protest.

"As players, your collective voice and influence has the power to hold multinational companies to account and sends a powerful message to a global audience - abusive behaviour is unacceptable," the statement read.

"The PFA is also calling on major brands and sponsors, who work with players, to switch off and pull their funding on the platforms during the boycott.

Speaking after Sheffield United's victory over Brighton, David McGoldrick says more needs to be done to stop racist abuse online

"We know from our members' first-hand accounts that online hate causes trauma. The impact of the abuse can also extend to family members and impressionable fans."

According to the statement, a report into online abuse during Project Restart analysed 825,515 Tweets directed at selected players, with over 3,000 abusive messages identified, more of half of which contained racist abuse.

"We want more significant levels of action from the social media companies and platforms to take greater responsibility for tackling racism and discrimination on their channels," the PFA continued.

"Football is calling for the use of filtering, blocking and swift takedowns of offensive posts, improved verification processes and re-registration prevention."

No Room For Racism (PA) 1:07
Edleen John, the FA’s Co-Partner for Equality, Diversity, and Inclusion, says social media companies will find a united boycott from English football hard to ignore

Who is involved in social media boycott?

The FA, Premier League, EFL, FA Women's Super League, FA Women's Championship, PFA, LMA, PGMOL, Kick It Out and the FSA will unite for this weekend's boycott from 3pm on Friday April 30 until 11.59pm on Monday May 3.

The action will see clubs from the Premier League, EFL, WSL and Women's Championship switch off their Facebook, Twitter and Instagram accounts.

A joint statement on behalf of all of the organisations said: "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.

Sanjay Bhandari (PA) 1:04
Kick It Out chair Sanjay Bhandari says a weekend-long collective social media boycott from English football is a 'call to action' for tech companies and the government to help stamp out online abuse

"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.

"Boycott action from football in isolation will, of course, not eradicate the scourge of online discriminatory abuse, but it will demonstrate that the game is willing to take voluntary and proactive steps in this continued fight.

"Finally, while football takes a stand, we urge the UK Government to ensure its Online Safety Bill will bring in strong legislation to make social media companies more accountable for what happens on their platforms, as discussed at the DCMS Online Abuse roundtable earlier this week."

Premier League chief executive Richard Masters said: "Racist behaviour of any form is unacceptable and the appalling abuse we are seeing players receive on social media platforms cannot be allowed to continue.

"The Premier League and our clubs stand alongside football in staging this boycott to highlight the urgent need for social media companies to do more in eliminating racial hatred. 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.

Arnaut Danjuma says social media companies must do more to tackle online abuse after he Bournemouth forward was sent hateful comments last month

"Football is a diverse sport, which brings together communities and cultures from all backgrounds and this diversity makes the competition stronger. No Room For Racism represents all the work we do to promote equality, diversity and inclusion and tackling discrimination."

Facebook, which owns Instagram, has declined to comment on this matter, while Sky Sports News has contacted Twitter for a response.

Lee to fans: Want to help? Join boycott

PFA equalities education executive Jason Lee has urged fans to join the boycott to help highlight the fight against online abuse, saying: "What do you want to do about it?"

"Too much onus is always on the players," Lee told Sky Sports News. "The players are doing everything they can to eradicate it.

"We keep asking the victims how to address discrimination. We need to change the narrative.

PFA equalities education executive Jason Lee has urged fans to join the social media boycott to help highlight the fight against online abuse

"We need everybody else to get involved; sponsors, commercial - anybody with a financial entity attached to a player or a club.

"We need everybody to really join hands and show the social media companies how serious we are about eradicating it and try to squeeze them a little bit to enforce change."

Following Leeds' 1-1 draw with Liverpool last week, Patrick Bamford told Sky Sports it was a "shame" the uproar which was caused by the failed attempt to form the Super League was not mirrored with other issues concerning the game, such as racism, which Lee agreed with.

Patrick Bamford was a doubt for Friday's clash due to a dead leg 0:45
Leeds striker Patrick Bamford says it’s ‘a shame’ the outrage over the European Super League is not mirrored in football's fight against racism

"If we can do that around stopping the European Super League then we need to do that - if not more importantly - around fighting discrimination," Lee said.

"As of Friday there's going to be a boycott. What do you want to do about it?

"Everybody says they're in, they want to do something - 'what can I do?' - well then boycott. It would be really, really helpful if as many people people as possible; the general public, everybody, was to just say 'ok, we'll join you in this'."

preview image 0:49
A boycott of social media by football's governing bodies in response to continued racial abuse on the platforms 'sends a really strong message', says EFL chairman Rick Parry

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