Footballers boycotting social media face ‘racist abuse’

Players taking part in anti-racism campaign faced online abuse, football union says, urging platforms to take note.

Manchester City v Tottenham Hotspur - UEFA Champions League Quarter Final: Second Leg
Tottenham defender Danny Rose was targeted with monkey noises while playing for England in Montenegro last month [Laurence Griffiths/Getty Images]

Footballers in England boycotting social media in a protest against racism were targeted with abuse about the 24-hour campaign, a trade union for professional footballers has reported. 

As part of the “Enough” campaign organised by the Professional Footballer’s Association, several English Premier League stars stayed off Twitter, Facebook and Instagram for 24 hours from 08:00 GMT on Friday.

Players, clubs and fans were encouraged to change their profile photos, disable comments and not post anything besides the campaign graphic. 

“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 on Saturday.


The campaign was intended to call on social media networks and footballing authorities to take stronger action in addressing racism received by professional footballers – both on and off the field. 

The PFA said it will be inviting players, in the coming days, to report any racist abuse they have received and then share information with social media companies “to demonstrate the impact of their lack of action”.

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 PFA said. “Meetings with England’s 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.”

‘No more abuse anywhere’

Friday’s boycott was led by Tottenham 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.

Liverpool midfielder Georginio Wijnaldum, England women’s team player Danielle Carter, and Arsenal forward Alexander Iwobi also took part in the boycott.

FIFA, world football’s governing body, “applauded” the move by the footballers and announced plans for a new global campaign to eradicate discrimination in the sport.

“FIFA is fully engaged in combating racism and any form of discrimination not only in football but society in general,” the organisation told The Associated Press in a statement on Thursday. 

According to FIFA’s diversity and anti-discriminatory policy, “discrimination of any kind on account of race, skin colour, ethnic, national or social origin … religion is strictly prohibited and punishable by suspension or expulsion”.

Yet racism and homophobia remain rife in international football, with fans often taking aim at opposing team’s players.

Earlier this year, West Ham United handed apparent evidence to the Metropolitan police of Islamophobic abuse aimed at Liverpool forward and Egyptian national player Mohamed Salah.

In December, an investigation was launched by Chelsea Football Club and UK police into alleged racist remarks by a fan directed at Manchester City and England’s national team player Raheem Sterling during a league game.

Source: Al Jazeera, News Agencies