South Yorkshire football clubs take part in social media boycott as racism battle intensifies

All five professional South Yorkshire football clubs have announced they will take part in a social media boycott over the weekend in a stand against online racial abuse.

Sheffield United, Barnsley, Rotherham United, Sheffield Wednesday, and Doncaster Rovers all made statements supporting the blackout earlier this week.

The Blades revealed two of their players have been the target of racial abuse over the past 12 months.

Striker David McGoldrick spoke to ITV’s Robert Peston, highlighting the need to be ‘more on the front foot’ in the battle against discrimination.

Sanjay Bhandari, Chair of Kick It Out, a football racism charity, 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.”

The stand, which has unified teams from all over the country, will start at 3pm on Friday 30 April and end at 11.59pm on Monday 3 May.

Edleen John, the FA’s Co-Partner for Equality, Diversion and Inclusion, said: “It’s simply unacceptable that people across English football and society more broadly continue to be subjected to discriminatory abuse online on a daily basis, with no real-world consequences for the perpetrators.

“Social media companies need to be held accountable if they continue to fall short of their moral and social responsibilities to address this endemic problem.”

Sheffield United released a statement on Saturday evening, declaring their support for the boycott.

Sheffield United have voiced their support.

They said: “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 social media boycott in response to the ongoingand sustained discriminatory abuse received online by players and many others connected to football.

“As a collection, the game recognises the considerable reach and value of social media to our sport. The connectivity and access to supporters who are at the heart of football remains vital.

“However, the boycott shows English football coming together to emphasise that social media companies must do more to eradicate online hate, while highlighting the importance of educating people in the ongoing fight against discrimination.”

They urged the UK Government to bring in strong legislation to make social media companies more accountable for what happens on their platforms.

Written by Charlie Haffenden

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