Leading sports stars, clubs and organisations have begun their four-day social media blackout to tackle abuse and discrimination.
The unified boycott of social media platforms such as Twitter, Facebook and Instagram started at 3pm on Friday afternoon and will continue until 23:59 BST on Monday evening.
Football Association president Prince William plus the likes of Marcus Rashford, Gary Lineker, Gary Neville and Lewis Hamilton tweeted their support for the blackout before it began on Friday.
FA president Prince William announced he would be joining the social media boycott over the Bank Holiday weekend
Manchester United and England star Marcus Rashford demanded social media companies take more action to fight abuse and discrimination ahead of the weekend boycott
United star Bruno Fernandes showed his support for the boycott before the 3pm blackout
Match of the Day host Gary Lineker posted this message as the world of sport prepares to unite for a social media blackout to demand action against discrimination
Gary Neville announced he will be joining the boycott, which started at 3pm on Friday
Formula One world champion Lewis Hamilton posted this message as the blackout started
Manchester United are among the leading teams going off social media this weekend
Football personalities were joined by those from cricket, rugby union, rugby league, tennis, Formula One and other sports in taking a stand against racism, sexism and other forms of discrimination on social media.
Those involved are demanding the likes of Twitter, Facebook and Instagram take a stronger stand against offensive and abusive messages.
Manchester United and England star Marcus Rashford demanded social media companies take concrete steps to tackle abuse. A similar message was posted by England captain Harry Kane and other leading players.
They posted: ‘Social media companies must DO MORE: Put stronger preventative and takedown measures in place to stop discriminatory abuse being sent or seen.
‘Be accountable for safety on platforms and protect users by implementing effective verification.
‘Ensure real-life consequences for online discriminatory abuse: ban perpetrators, stop account re-registration and support law enforcements.’
Rashford’s United team-mate Bruno Fernandes wrote: ‘We want everyone to join us. Together we can stop it.’
Match of the Day host Lineker tweeted: ‘Enjoy your Bank Holiday weekend, everyone #socialmediaboycott’.
The social media blackout on platforms such as Twitter, Instagram and Facebook will continue until 23:59 BST on Monday evening
The Premier League are among several sports bodies joining the boycott of social media platforms over the Bank Holiday weekend
England cricket captain Eoin Morgan echoed the ECB’s demands that social media companies must do more to stamp out online abuse
Sky Sports pundit Neville posted: ‘I will be joining the social media boycott this weekend. The abuse directed at so many on these platforms must stop now!’
Formula One world champion Hamilton wrote: ‘To stand in solidarity with the football community, I will be going drawn on my social media channels this weekend.
‘There is no place in our society for any kind of abuse, online or not, and for too long it’s been easy for a small few to post hate from behind their screens.
‘While a boycott might not solve this issue overnight, we have to call for change when needed, even when it seems like an almost impossible task.
‘Sport has the power to unite us. Let’s not accept abuse as part of sport, but instead let’s be the ones who make a difference for future generations.’
Willian revealed he was subject to racist abuse on Instagram after playing for Arsenal this week
The Brazilian posted on his story the two different direct message threads on Instagram
Manchester City’s Kyle Walker has been subjected to racist abuse online via Instagram
Brentford striker Ivan Toney was sent racist messages on Instagram earlier this month
Toney shared a screenshot of the messages, which contained monkey and banana emojis
It came as Manchester United reported a shocking 350 per cent increase in online abuse aimed at its players.
The club carried out its own survey over a 17-month period between September 2019 and February 2021, which revealed the massive rise.
It discovered 3,300 abusive posts targeting United players – 86 per cent of which were racist and eight per cent were homophobic – with Anthony Martial, Axel Tuanzebe and Fred all confirming that they have been racially abused in recent months. The majority of posts included the N-word or emojis with racist intent.
The situation peaked in January of this year with over 400 abusive player posts, while United also discovered an increase in fans abusing each other on social media.
Manchester United have reported a 350 per cent increase in online abuse of its players -Anthony Martial (C), Axel Tuanzebe and Fred (L) have been racially abused in recent months
United’s survey between September 2019 and February 2021 discovered 3,300 abusive posts
All clubs in the Premier League, EFL, Women’s Super League and the Scottish Leagues will be joining the blackout as well as the Football Associations of the four home nations and Europe’s governing body UEFA.
They are joined by the England and Wales Cricket Board, Premiership Rugby, and the rugby national teams of England, Scotland, Wales and France.
Premier League, EFL and WSL players and clubs will join the social media blackout
The Rugby Football Union confirmed that all of its social channels will observe the blackout
All clubs in the Gallagher Premiership will take part in the boycott over the weekend
A message on the Premier League’s official Twitter account read: ‘We take this stance alongside the football community, in the battle against online abuse and discrimination on social media.
‘We are asking for significant action to bring to an end the vile discriminatory abuse players and many others have to endure on social media.’
Sanjay Bhandari, the chairman of anti-discrimination charity Kick It Out, said: ‘This boycott signifies our collective anger.
‘By removing ourselves from the platforms, we are making a symbolic gesture to those with power. We need you to act. We need you to create change.’
SOCIAL-MEDIA BLACKOUT – WHO IS INVOLVED?
The sport’s authorities kicked off the boycott plans last Saturday night, in response to a rising tide of online hate aimed at players, managers and pundits.
Clubs across the Premier League, EFL, Women’s Super League and Women’s Championship will switch off their accounts.
Governing bodies’ central accounts – such as those belonging to the Premier League, the Football Association, the WSL, the EFL, the Professional Footballers’ Association, the League Managers Association and the Football Supporters’ Association are also involved, as are anti-discrimination bodies Kick It Out and Show Racism The Red Card.
Clubs and governing bodies across Scottish football have also now pledged to support the boycott.
The England and Wales Cricket Board announced on Wednesday that it, the 18 first-class counties, the eight women’s regional teams and the Professional Cricketers’ Association were joining the boycott.
The Rugby Football Union stands in solidarity with the football and cricket authorities, and its accounts for England Rugby, the Allianz Premier 15s, the Championship and GB7s will all suspend activity, it was confirmed on Thursday. Clubs in the Gallagher Premiership announced they were boycotting social media the previous day, with the support of the Rugby Players’ Association.
The Lawn Tennis Association announced on Monday its intention to stand with football in support of the boycott.
Sportswear giant Adidas – which manufactures more than a third of Premier League kits – is stopping all advertising across its platforms. Barclays, which sponsors the WSL, 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.
England football team sponsor Budweiser has signed up, while online car retailer Cazoo – which sponsors Everton and Aston Villa – became the first major sponsor to announce its support of the boycott on Tuesday.