English football will stage a boycott of social media to protest against ongoing racism and “sustained discriminatory abuse” online.
The FA, English Premier League, EFL, FA Women’s Super League, FA Women’s Championship, PFA, LMA, PGMOL, Kick It Out, Women in Football and the FSA will join forces on April 30 at 3pm until just before midnight on May 3.
“This has been scheduled to take place across a full-fixture programme in the men’s and women’s professional game and will feature clubs across the Premier League, EFL, WSL and Women’s Championship switching off their Facebook, Twitter and Instagram accounts,” read a joint statement.
“[S]ocial media companies must do more to eradicate online hate, while highlighting the importance of educating people in the ongoing fight against discrimination,” it continued.
The EPL has been pushing for social media reforms. In February, they urged for more “filtering, blocking and swift takedowns of offensive posts, an improved verification process and re-registration prevention, plus active assistance for law enforcement agencies to identify and prosecute originators of illegal content.”
Last month, Arsenal legend Thierry Henry quit social media over the “sheer volume of racism, bullying and resulting mental torture” that he described as “too toxic to ignore”.
Crystal Palace player Zaha became the first footballer in the English Premier League to stop taking a knee before games (a gesture introduced last year in support of Black Lives Matter).
“As a society, I feel we should be encouraging better education in schools, and social media companies should be taking stronger action against people abuse others online – not just footballers,” Zaha said at the time.
A 12-year-old was arrested last year for harassing Zaha with violent racist messages on Instagram, invoking images of the white supremacist terrorist hate group Ku Klux Klan.
Former Arsenal player Ian Wright spoke up at the time.
“People like to make these experiences seem like it’s not the norm for black people. It’s always an outlier,” wrote Wright on Twitter.
“These are real people & daily experiences!! Sooner we accept it the better we can deal with it!!! We stand with you Wilf,” he added.