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Why Football Community Is Involved In A Social Media Blackout This Weekend

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Why Football Community Is Involved In A Social Media Blackout This Weekend

Football clubs, players and governing bodies across England and Scotland are joining in a four-day social media blackout this weekend, starting at 3pm on Friday.

The unprecedented boycott is in response to "the ongoing and sustained discriminatory abuse" aimed at footballers and people within the game. It's also designed as a protest to social media companies over their perceived lack of action in the face of racist abuse on their platforms.

The Premier League, the FA, the Football League, the Women's Super League, as well as broadcasters Sky Sports and BT Sport, have all announced that they are taking part.

Twitter, Facebook and Instagram platforms will fall silent for a host of clubs - including Arsenal, Liverpool, Manchester United, Celtic, Rangers and many more - until 11.59pm on Monday, 3 May.

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It follows a series of high-profile racist attacks on players across professional football. Paul Pogba, Sadio Mane, Reece James, Marcus Rashford, Trent Alexander-Arnold, Raheem Sterling, Tyrone Mings and Wilfried Zaha are just some of the names on a depressingly long list of players who have suffered hateful online abuse.

The social shutdown is designed as a show of solidarity, but also a message to social media platforms that they are not doing enough to combat the abuse.

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LADbible Group is showing support for the battle against racism and abuse by donating to Kick It Out, a charity which works across all levels of the game by tackling discrimination on behalf of everyone who plays, watches or works in football. You can get involved by donating to Kick It Out here.

"This boycott signifies our collective anger," explained Sanjay Bhandari, chairman of Kick it Out.

"Social media is now sadly a regular vessel for toxic abuse. By removing ourselves from the platforms, we are making a symbolic gesture to those with power. We need you to act. We need you to create change.

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"We need social media companies to make their platforms a hostile environment for trolls rather than for the football family."

The boycott has received support from numerous current and former players. Arsenal legend Thierry Henry announced in March that he was leaving social media "until the people in power are able to regulate their platforms with the same vigour and ferocity that they currently do when you infringe copyright."

Henry has since expressed his support for the boycott, telling the BBC: "I hope it is going to have an impact on those companies and they are going to come out with some real ideas.

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"They [social media companies] are doing so little about it - to try to tackle racism, harassment and bullying."

A joint statement, released by football organisations, referenced demands made in February for social media companies to block or quickly remove offensive posts, improve account verification and offer greater assistance for police to identify abusers.

It read: "While some progress has been made, we reiterate those requests today in an effort to stem the relentless flow of discriminatory messages and ensure that there are real-life consequences for purveyors of online abuse across all platforms.

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"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."

Featured image credit: PA Images

Topics: Premier League, Racism in football

Alex Reid
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