Soccer leagues across England announce social media boycott over racist abuse of players

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SHEFFIELD, ENGLAND - APRIL 24: Detail view of the Premier League badge and the No Room for Racism Badge during the Premier League match between Sheffield United and Brighton & Hove Albion at Bramall Lane on April 24, 2021 in Sheffield, England. Sporting stadiums around the UK remain under strict restrictions due to the Coronavirus Pandemic as Government social distancing laws prohibit fans inside venues resulting in games being played behind closed doors.  (Photo by Michael Regan/Getty Images)
Premier League teams won't be using social media for three days next week. (Photo by Michael Regan/Getty Images)

Pretty much every professional league in England is going dark for three days next week.

The FA, Premier League, EFL, FA Women's Super League, FA Women's Championship, PFA, LMA, PGMOL, Kick It Out, Women in Football and the FSA announced Saturday that they will shut down their Facebook, Twitter and Instagram accounts from April 30 to May 3.

The boycott is in response to "ongoing and sustained discriminatory abuse received online by players and many others connected to football."

English soccer leagues call on social media companies, governments for change

In announcing their boycott, the English soccer organizations called on social media companies to be more active eradicating online hate and educating people on the fight against discrimination.

Heads of the organizations had already released a letter in February addressed to Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg and Twitter CEO Jack Dorsey imploring the executives to filter out and block content with racist or discriminatory material, verify the identities of users more stringently and actively assist authorities investigating discriminatory material.

Racist abuse has long been a frequent presence in the social media experiences of soccer players both domestic and foreign, and has become an even more urgent issue in the year since the murder of George Floyd.

The soccer organizations called for the U.K. government to push through its proposed Online Safety Bill. Under the controversial bill, social media companies will face fines of up to 10 percent of their annual turnover if found to have failed in protecting impressionable users from illegal material. Companies could also be blocked in the U.K. if found to be non-compliant.

Edleen John, director of international relations for the FA, had this to say:

"It's simply unacceptable that people across English football and society more broadly continue to be subjected to discriminatory abuse online on a daily basis, with no real-world consequences for perpetrators.

"This needs to change quickly, and we continue to urge social media companies to act now to address this. We will not stop talking about this issue and will continue to work with government in ensuring that the Online Safety Bill gives sufficient regulatory and supervisory powers to Ofcom."

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