London: Premier League stars led footballers in England and Wales in a 24-hour social media boycott on Friday in a bid to combat racist abuse online.
Watford striker Troy Deeney — who blocked replies to his Instagram account earlier this month after receiving abuse — summed up the anger he and fellow footballers feel, saying: “Enough is enough.”
The campaign, which is being coordinated by England’s Professional Footballers’ Association, urged players to stay off all social media from 9am local time on Friday.
The universal message across the footballers’ Twitter accounts used the hashtag #Enough with the message “MAKE A STAND AGAINST RACISM — A campaign by the PFA”.
The PFA said the boycott was the “first step in a longer campaign to tackle racism in football”.
The boycott is not just aimed at those who use the platforms to air their racist views but also at the social media companies themselves and football authorities.
There have been growing concerns over how football should tackle racism following a number of incidents of abuse both at grounds and on social media.
England’s black players faced repeated racist chants during their Euro 2020 qualifier in Montenegro last month.
One of those targeted, full-back Danny Rose, said afterwards he could not wait to turn his “back on football”.
Some like Liverpool manager Jurgen Klopp — whose star player Mohammad Salah was the target of Islamophobic abuse by Chelsea fans last week — has said he would have no hesitation in taking his players off the pitch.
“If it’s the whole stand, then I would do it 100 per cent,” Klopp said after the Montenegro incidents.
“But that’s too much power for one or two idiots or three or four idiots. But if the whole stand would do it then it is completely different.”