BT Sport and talkSPORT join social media boycott over online abuse

PA Sport Staff
·3-min read

Football’s boycott of social media this weekend continues to grow, with broadcasters BT Sport and talkSPORT announcing on Wednesday they will be taking part.

A coalition of English football’s largest governing bodies and organisations, including the Football Association, Premier League and EFL, revealed last weekend they would go silent on social media in a show of solidarity against racism.

The FA Women’s Super League, FA Women’s Championship, Professional Footballers’ Association, League Managers’ Association, PGMOL, Kick It Out, Women in Football and the Football Supporters’ Association will also suspend all use of their social media accounts from 3pm on Friday April 30 until 11.59pm on Monday May 3.

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That group has now expanded to include a number of sponsors and partners of the game, with broadcasters the latest group to join in.

BT Sport posted on Twitter: “This horrific cycle of online abuse needs to end. We stand united with the football community against online hate.”

It added: “The only content to appear on our channels across this weekend will be in relation to social media abuse.”

Head of talkSPORT Lee Clayton said: “talkSPORT is proud to join the social media boycott to speak up for those who have suffered real and lasting abuse on social media.

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“talkSPORT’s social media is an important part of our multimedia offering with 5.6m followers across our social platforms. But now is the time to stand with the football community against hate.

“Racism is of course a big part of this boycott. But it also spans sexism, hateful and hostile content, discrimination and general abuse too.

“As a station we are taking steps to protect our own presenters from abuse from social media trolls and this is an important statement that online hate will not be tolerated.”

The PA news agency understands Sky Sports, which is partnered with anti-discrimination body Kick It Out, is supportive of the boycott.

Manchester United midfielder Paul Pogba looks into the distance
Manchester United’s shirt manufacturer adidas is joining the social media boycott (Adrian Dennis/PA)

Adidas, which manufactures more than a third of Premier League kits, including the likes of Manchester United, Arsenal and Leicester, is stopping all advertising across its platforms this weekend.

Barclays, title sponsor of the WSL and the official bank of the Premier League, will support the blackout, with no social media posts on the Barclays Football pages of Facebook and Instagram nor the Barclays Footy Twitter account, while the company’s other social channels will avoid all football-related activity.

Budweiser, which sponsors the England team, is also signing up, with online car retailer Cazoo, shirt sponsors of Aston Villa and Everton, on Tuesday becoming the first major football sponsor to announce its support.

Liverpool v Manchester City – Premier League – Anfield
Liverpool captain Jordan Henderson has said he would consider coming off social media all together (Tim Keeton/PA)

This weekend’s boycott follows social media blackouts by Swansea, Birmingham and Rangers in recent weeks, with Liverpool captain Jordan Henderson stating he would be willing to follow Arsenal great Thierry Henry in coming offline altogether in protest against racist behaviour.

It could also be embraced by other sports, with the Lawn Tennis Association confirming its involvement, although the Rugby Football Union and golf’s European Tour are not joining the boycott.