Why Independent Sport is joining football’s social media boycott

The Independent’s sports channels will stay silent on social media this weekend in solidarity with football’s stand against online abuse

Sports Staff
Friday 30 April 2021 13:45
<p>Football is boycotting social media this weekend</p>

Football is boycotting social media this weekend

Independent Sport is standing alongside football and other sports by participating in a social media boycott.

Taking place from 3pm on Friday 30 April until 11.59pm on Monday 3 May, the initiative will see leading English football organisations, other sports and media outlets suspend activity on Twitter, Facebook and Instagram. The aim is to raise greater awareness against discrimination online and force social media giants to do more to tackle online hate.

Not enough is being done. A recent YouGov poll revealed more than one in 10 have received online abuse and half the UK population have seen online abuse in the last year.

Part of The Independent’s duty when covering sport is to look beyond the field of play. And amid the challenges faced by all during the Covid-19 pandemic, it has been startling how much online vitriol athletes have been subjected to during a time of collective struggle. Even more jarring has been the lack of action from those in charge of these platforms who could clamp down on all kinds of discrimination with just the click of a button. 

Football’s authorities initiated boycott plans last week in response to the growing body of hate and abuse online, particularly aimed and players, managers, and pundits. All clubs across the Premier League, Football League, Women’s Super League and Women’s Championship are switching off their accounts. Governing bodies’ central accounts such as those belonging to the Premier League, the Football Association, the WSL, the EFL, the Professional Footballers’ Association, the League Managers Association and the Football Supporters’ Association are also involved, as are anti-discrimination bodies Kick It Out and Show Racism The Red Card, and organisations and clubs across Scottish and Welsh football. There is also widespread support beyond football: rugby union’s key governing bodies and all Premiership teams have joined the boycott, as have the UK governing bodies of rugby league, darts, horse racing and cycling. Lewis Hamilton has also vowed to join the social media blackout.

It may well have no effect. By Tuesday, things may go on as they did before, with no signs of change where it is needed. But being an ally is as much about standing shoulder to shoulder to fight the battles that may not be won. Thus, we at The Independent are proud to offer our solidarity by taking part.