Last week English Championship promotion contenders Swansea City announced they were boycotting social media for a week in an effort to fight against racism and racist abuse.
They have joined fellow Championship side Birmingham City and Scottish champions Rangers FC for a seven-day period.
This season alone there have been numerous cases of racist abuse on social media channels, with Twitter in particular coming up time and time again.
Swansea’s statement read:
“This decision has been taken as a result of conversations between senior club staff, players and management.
“As a football club, we have seen several of our players subjected to abhorrent abuse in the past seven weeks alone, and we feel it is right to take a stand against behaviour that is a blight on our sport, and society at large.
“We will always be unwavering in our support of our players, staff, supporters and the community that we proudly represent, and we are united as a club on this issue.
“We also want to stand with players from other clubs who have had to endure vile discrimination on social media platforms.”
As a result, the Swans won’t be posting live updates of their game versus Wycombe Wanderers this weekend where they are widely-expected to win, with odds from Indiana Bet as short as 1/2.
Should Premier League clubs join in the boycott?
Swansea and Birmingham have done all they can in making a start but if their stance is to get any real coverage across the country, they could be aided by top Premier League clubs joining in.
Manchester United, Arsenal and Liverpool being the biggest in the English top-flight, each have the ability to make a real difference.
Being the biggest club in London, a boycott from the Gunners would likely see a number of other clubs join in, not just within the English capital, but across the Premier League and Football League, and potentially worldwide. The coverage this would generate on Arsenal news sites worldwide and of course in international media would be substantial.
Similarly, Manchester United are more than capable of starting a trend. Already part of the Premier League’s ‘No Room for Racism’ campaign, the Red Devils themselves have used the empty seats in their stadium to support anti-racism.
Brazilian midfielder Fred was only recently a victim to online abuse. The 28-year-old has been a key part of Ole Gunnar Solskjaer’s side so far this season, starting 22 Premier League matches as they currently sit second as well as being in the quarter-finals of the UEFA Europa League.
Defending Premier League champions Liverpool only recently released a statement themselves condemning all forms of racism following both Naby Keïta and Rinsola Babajide falling victims of racist abuse on social media this week.
Could it happen?
Social media played a big role in the death of George Floyd gaining national and later international coverage, leading to a big movement in the Black Lives Matter campaign in 2020.
There is no doubt these major football clubs with their millions and millions of followers could make a real statement of intent by joining together to boycott social media for a week to help deal with the serious issue.
On Monday, the FA themselves said they would consider a social media boycott if it would help lead to tangible change on social media.
The FA’s statement said:
“We recognise that clubs and individuals may wish to use their platforms to tackle online hate in different ways, whether that is a boycott of social media, or engaging their followers in how they can support with attempting to reduce hate speech.
“We fully support any club or player that wishes to take a stand against any form of discrimination in a respectful manner, including the boycott of social media platforms.”
However, critics argue that while a social media boycott is well-meaning, it’s ineffective in fighting racist abuse online.