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‘Enough is enough’: football tackles social media racism

Swansea City lead boycott after online abuse of players 

A number of football clubs in Britain are boycotting social media platforms in response to abuse and discrimination directed at players from online accounts. On Thursday Swansea City announced a club-wide blackout for seven days and were followed by fellow Championship side Birmingham City and Scottish champions Rangers.   

In the past week Liverpool duo Trent Alexander-Arnold and Naby Keita were subjected to racist abuse on Instagram and Brentford striker Ivan Toney was also targeted on the same platform. 

Explaining the decision to stop posting on Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, LinkedIn, YouTube, TikTok and Snapchat for seven days, Swansea said several players had suffered “abhorrent abuse” since February and that “enough is enough”. The latest incident happened after the Swans’ loss at Birmingham last Friday, when forward Jamal Lowe was racially abused on Instagram the following day, Sky Sports reports.

In a statement the Welsh club said the “sickening and vile abuse that we are seeing on a daily and weekly basis is wholly unacceptable” and “we hope that this stance across the club will be supported by everyone”.

Birmingham joined Swansea in the boycott and will “stand in solidarity” with their Championship rivals. The Midlands club said: “By removing our content from these platforms, we intend to starve the perpetrators of such abusive and discriminatory behaviour of a space in which they can carry out offences that are not only criminal but deeply harmful to the wellbeing of groups and individuals.”

‘More stringent policing and punishments’

After the abuse of Lowe, Yan Dhanda and Ben Cabango, Swansea chief executive Julian Winter sent a letter to Twitter CEO Jack Dorsey and Facebook’s founder, chairman and CEO Mark Zuckerberg. In the letter Winter reiterated the club’s desire to see social media companies introduce “more stringent policing and punishments for those guilty of the appalling and cowardly abuse that has sadly become far too common”.

Facebook, which owns Instagram, says it “shares the goal” of tackling discriminatory abuse on its platforms and “want to hold people who share it accountable”, Sky Sports reports. However, Detective Chief Constable Mark Roberts, the UK’s football policing lead, said last month that the response of social media companies in assisting the police to identify abusers has been “woeful”.

‘Big clubs must join Swansea’s boycott’

The boycott of social media platforms will be discussed next week at a meeting between the Premier League and English Football League. And the idea of all 92 professional clubs quitting the likes of Facebook, Twitter and Instagram for a period of time is likely to be raised, The Telegraph reports. 

Following the stand against the tech giants, the biggest clubs “must join Swansea City’s boycott” the Telegraph says. “Swansea have made their stance but this movement needs to grow. Otherwise it will be in vain.”

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