English football set to unite in social media blackout to protest against online abuse

English football is coming together in a social media blackout next weekend to protest against ongoing and sustained discriminatory abuse received online by players and many others within the game.

The Football Association Premier League, Football League, Women’s Super League and Championship, Professional Footballers' Association, League Managers Association, Professional Game Match Officials Limited , Kick It Out and the Football Supporters Association will all join the boycott from 3pm on Friday midnight the following Monday, May 3.

Clubs across the professional men's and women's games will switch off their Facebook, Twitter and Instagram accounts.

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English football is trying to put social media companies under pressure to do more to eradicate what it calls “online hate”.

ABUSE: Crystal Palace's Wilfried Zaha is one of many footballers to have been abused online this season
ABUSE: Crystal Palace's Wilfried Zaha is one of many footballers to have been abused online this season

There is unhappiness that not enough has been done since a letter to the companies in February urging filtering, blocking and the swift taking down of offensive posts, an improved verification process and re-

registration prevention, plus active assistance for law enforcement agencies to identify and prosecute originators of illegal content.

The bodies are also asking the Government to ensure its Online Safety Bill includes strong legislation to make social media companies more accountable for what happens on their platforms.

“Social media is now sadly a regular vessel for toxic abuse," said Sanjay Bhandari, chairman of anti-discrimination group Kick It Out. "This boycott signifies our collective anger at the damage this causes to the people who play, watch and work in the game. 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."

A huge number of footballers including Marcus Rashford, Wilfried Zaha and Reece and Lauren James have been targets of abuse this season. Hull City coach Grant McCann recently revealed he had come off social media to escape its negativity.

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