Social media boycott over racism could be debated in the House of Commons

PA Sport Staff
·4-min read

The social media boycott to protest against online racism could become a matter for debate in the House of Commons as MP Julie Elliott wants Parliament to discuss the issues it raises.

A coalition of English football’s largest governing bodies and organisations including the Football Association, Premier League and EFL announced last weekend they will 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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Elliott, a member of the Digital, Culture, Media and Sport Select Committee, has written to the Leader of the House of Commons requesting Parliamentary time be put aside to debate the boycott.

“This boycott is unprecedented in the industry. We have seen far too many examples of sportspeople receiving sexist, racist and homophobic abuse online,” she wrote to the Leader of the House Jacob Rees Mogg.

“I am therefore writing to you to request…. parliamentary time on the floor of the House is granted to debate this important issue.”

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On Wednesday, broadcasters BT Sport and talkSPORT announced they were also joining the boycott.

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.”

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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.

“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.”

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 became the first major football sponsor to announce its support, with others expected to follow suit.

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.

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

It could also be embraced by other sports, with the Lawn Tennis Association confirming its involvement on Monday, although the Rugby Football Union has confirmed it is not joining the boycott and neither is golf’s European Tour.