Leeds United to join Premier League clubs in social media boycott amid response to online abuse

Leeds United will join Premier League clubs and the rest of men's and women's English football in boycotting social media next weekend.

Saturday, 24th April 2021, 10:00 pm
Leeds United in a huddle during a warm-up at Elland Road. Pic: Getty

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 will unite for a mass boycott across social media.

The self-imposed ban - which will take place from 15:00 on Friday 30 April to 23.59 on Monday 3 May - will coincide with a full fixture list is in response to the "ongoing and sustained discriminatory abuse received online by players and many others connected to football."

Leeds face Brighton & Hove Albion in the top flight next Saturday and will leave their social media pages blank as part of a wider protest from across the game.

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A number of players have been vocal in their reporting of racist abuse received online in recent months - including former Whites forward Kemar Roofe who is currently with Rangers.

In February the Premier League wrote to social media companies urging them to implement filtering and blocking for abuse along with the swift removal of any offensive posts and an improved verification process for users.

The boycott is a further step from football as the game looks to make a stand next weekend over the rising problem online.

The UK government is also being called upon by the governing bodies to ensure its Online Safety Bill will bring in strong legislation to make social media companies more accountable for what happens on their platforms

Premier League Chief Executive Richard Masters said: “Racist behaviour of any form is unacceptable and the appalling abuse we are seeing players receive on social media platforms cannot be allowed to continue.

“The Premier League and our clubs stand alongside football in staging this boycott to highlight the urgent need for social media companies to do more in eliminating racial hatred.

"We will not stop challenging social media companies and want to see significant improvements in their policies and processes to tackle online discriminatory abuse on their platforms.

“Football is a diverse sport, which brings together communities and cultures from all backgrounds and this diversity makes the competition stronger.

"No Room For Racism represents all the work we do to promote equality, diversity and inclusion and tackling discrimination.”

Sanjay Bhandari, Kick It Out Chair, said: “Social media is now sadly a regular vessel for toxic abuse.

"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.

“We need social media companies to make their platforms a hostile environment for trolls rather than for the football family.

"We need the Government to hold its nerve and keep its promises to regulate. The Online Safety Bill could be a game changer and we aim to help make that happen.

"There should be no space for hate and everyone can play their part. If you watch, work in or love the game, join in.”