Social media boycott: Leeds rapper and former Leeds United Academy footballer calls for long term action to stamp out racism

A Leeds rapper and former footballer has called for long term action to stamp out racism in the sport as he backs the social media boycott against online abuse.

Saturday, 1st May 2021, 6:00 am

Graft, who rose to prominence after winning the BBC's Rap Game UK, played for the Leeds United Academy and has experienced racism on the pitch during his career.

As social media accounts across English football and beyond shut down from 3pm on Friday until 11.59pm on Monday, Graft says racism is still rife in sport.

He has praised the high-profile names, such as former Leeds striker Kemar Roofe, who are speaking out about their experiences of online abuse.

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Leeds rapper Graft, who played for Leeds United Academy, has experienced racism on the pitch during his career

Graft told the Yorkshire Evening Post: "Seeing the abuse, as a human being, is not nice to see - regardless of your colour.

"But specifically for young Black and Asian boys and girls, the abuse might put them off football, they might think 'I don't want to go through that.'

"What's important is how the footballers in that position deal with the abuse. When they show a good representation, that can give the younger boys and girls confidence if they are in that position."

Graft was encouraged by the social media boycott taking place this weekend, but he said it was just the start of the change needed as he calls for long-term action to address racism in football.

Leeds United and the rest of English football have united for a social media boycott in response to racist abuse directed at players and others (Photo: Getty)

He added: "It's good to see the players are now speaking up about it and expressing how they really feel. That's the only way change is going to happen.

"Racism is very much prominent in the world that we live in and in sport.

"Times are changing and because we live in the era of social media it can't be hidden anymore. It's being shown.

"When the players are using their platforms to make thousands of people aware, that's when the power is in the hands of the governing bodies, the FA - it puts more pressure on these corporations to make a change as it's in the public eye."

Graft has called for long term action to stamp out racism in the sport

Leeds United Supporters’ Trust is joining the boycott this weekend and wants to see more action from social media companies like Facebook and Twitter to combat abuse.

This was echoed by Graft, who said: "Social media companies need to stamp down on abuse, being strict on these trolls and banning them - however old they are.

"I back that [clubs] are trying to make a change, trying to do something. It's better making a start than not doing anything at all.

"But change needs to happen at a higher level, it's the people who are in charge and making the decisions who need to really make a change throughout their entire system, not just jumping on a bandwagon.

"It needs to be long-term, not short-term campaigns that go away after a few months."

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