Sun, Apr 21, 2019 - Page 11 News List

Player social media boycott over racism targeted with abuse

AP, MANCHESTER, England

Soccer players in England boycotting social media in a protest against racism were targeted with abuse about the 24-hour campaign.

Talks with the social media companies are now being urgently sought by the Professional Footballers’ Association (PFA), which coordinated the #Enough campaign to demand a crackdown on racism by the platforms.

There was silence on Twitter, Facebook and Instagram from many players from 9am on Friday.

“Yesterday, some members received racist abuse on their #Enough posts. When these incidents were reported, the response from social networks was — again — unacceptable,” the PFA said in a statement.

“In the coming days, we will be inviting players to report any racist abuse they have received to us. We will collate it and share it with social platforms to demonstrate the impact of their lack of action,” it added.

Social media companies did not appear to respond on their networks to the players’ concerns, despite widespread coverage and support from FIFA for the boycott.

“We will be requesting meetings with each of the social platforms as a matter of priority,” the association said. “Meetings with the Football Association and government are planned for next month. This is a first step in a larger player-led campaign to tackle racism and demand meaningful change.”

The boycott was led by Tottenham Hotspur defender Danny Rose, who was targeted with monkey noises while playing for England in Montenegro last month, and Manchester United defender Chris Smalling, who called for more stringent regulation of posts on social media.

The PFA said that the boycott was the “first step in a longer campaign to tackle racism in football.”

Liverpool’s England defender Trent Alexander-Arnold was among those who posted the PFA message on his Instagram on Friday morning.

“We are making a stand against racist abuse,” the message said. “We recognize that our platforms come with responsibility, and so we are using our voice to stand against racist abuse.”

Smalling — whose teammate Ashley Young was the victim of racist abuse after a mistake during their UEFA Champions League defeat to Barcelona on Tuesday — echoed these sentiments, saying that harmful and hate-filled posts can have a debilitating impact on those targeted.

“Throughout my career I have developed a thick skin against verbal abuse, justifying it as just ‘part of the game,’ but the time has come for Twitter, Instagram and Facebook to consider regulating their channels, taking responsibility for protecting the mental health of users regardless of age, race, sex or income,” Smalling said.

Additional reporting by AFP

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