Professional sports teams in the United Kingdom have stopped posting on social media in a bid to raise awareness of online abuse.
Soccer clubs including Birmingham City, Swansea City, and Rangers are taking part in a week-long boycott of all their social media platforms.
Swansea led the way, with the club’s official social media accounts falling silent at 17:00 on April 8. The club’s boycott has been supported and echoed by its staff and by the men and women who make up its teams.
With Swansea City’s silence, captain of the first men’s team, Matt Grimes, said that the club hoped to encourage the operators of social media companies to take action against the discrimination and abuse taking place on their platforms.
“We wanted to take this stance as we again call on those at the forefront of social media companies to implement the change that is needed now and in the future,” said Grimes.
Shortly after Swansea went dark on social media, soccer club Birmingham City posted that they stood “in solidarity with Swansea in the fight against abuse and discrimination of all forms across social media.”
Rangers, whose midfielder Glen Kamara and strikers Alfredo Morelos and Kemar Roofe have been subject to racist abuse online, joined the boycott soon after. The club said it wants social media platforms to make users verify their identity before being allowed to post content.
Liverpool Football Club captain Jordan Henderson gave anti-cyberbullying charity The Cybersmile Foundation control of his social media accounts in the hope of “raising awareness of how seriously online abuse can affect people.”
In March, former French international footballer and Arsenal star Thierry Henry quit social media altogether, stating that the volume of racism was “too toxic to ignore.”
English cricket team pacer Stuart Broad has said that the team management are prepared to boycott social media over the online abuse leveled at players. England cricketer Jofra Archer has been the target of racist comments on social media platforms including Instagram.
“It beggars my belief that someone could write some of the messages to my teammates that they have to Jofra,” Broad told PA Media.
“If you said some of the stuff people say on social media on the street, it wouldn’t end well, would it?”