English Soccer Clubs, Leagues Boycott Social Media to Protest Online Abuse

Blake SchusterSenior Analyst IIIApril 24, 2021

FILE - In this file photo dated Thursday, April 9, 2020, gates stand locked outside the closed English Premier League soccer Manchester City Etihad Stadium, in Manchester, northern England.  Guidance for sports bodies was published by the government on Saturday May 30, 2020, as COVID-19 lockdown restrictions are being eased further, allowing Sports events to resume in England from upcoming Monday, without any spectators and providing they comply with the government's coronavirus protocols. (AP Photo/Jon Super, FILE)
Jon Super/Associated Press

In an unprecedented step to combat racism, abuse and discrimination, English football clubs announced Saturday a boycott of all social media platforms from April 30 to May 3.

The boycott includes 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 and will occur during a window in which all clubs involved have scheduled matches.

Tottenham Hotspur @SpursOfficial

We will join teams across the country in boycotting social media next weekend, in response to the ongoing and sustained discriminatory abuse received by players and many others connected to football. #THFC ⚪️ #COYS

"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," Premier League CEO Richard Masters said in a statement. "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."

In February, English football submitted an open letter to Twitter CEO Jack Dorsey and Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg, challenging the two social media giants to end racist abuse on their platforms by filtering, blocking and deleting hate speech.

Leaders of the Premier League, FA, EFL, PFA, LMA, PGMOL and KIO further asked the two companies to tighten their standards while also assisting "investigating authorities in identifying the originators of illegal discriminatory material."

Now the cohort are taking a more dramatic step, taking themselves off social media for nearly four days.

"While we recognise the value and role social media plays in our game, online abuse will not be tolerated and we will continue to strongly pursue all avenues open to us to affect change," EFL CEO Trevor Birch said. "The boycott is only part of the work being undertaken in this area but further highlights the need for social media companies to take additional responsibility for the inappropriate and unwelcome behaviour that appears on their platforms."

The collection of leagues, clubs and groups acknowledged the boycott will not solve the issue of racist abuse on social media but hopes to "demonstrate that the game is willing to take voluntary and proactive steps in this continued fight."


The latest in the sports world, emailed daily.