Gosport Borough FC, Sholing and AFC Portchester joined thousands of football club organisations who blanked out social media channels over the Bank Holiday weekend, with the sporting world attempting to make a stand against a rising issue in this ever-growing digital landscape of the 21st century. As part of this stand; Facebook, Twitter and Instagram profiles of all three clubs were not used throughout the four-day May weekend, with normal social media activities returning on Tuesday morning.
The FA, Premier League, EFL, FA Women’s Super League, FA Women’s Championship, PFA, LMA, PGMOL, Kick It Out and the FSA united for a social media boycott from 15.00 on Friday 30 April to 23.59 on Monday 3 May, in response to the ongoing and sustained discriminatory abuse received online by players and many others connected to football at all levels.
This was purposely scheduled to take place across a full fixture programme in the men’s and women’s professional game and saw across the Premier League, EFL, WSL and Women’s Championship switch off; posting a general FA message in place of profile photographs and imagery. As a collective, 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 and many users reported their understanding behind why they weren’t to access match reports or results; particularly at non-league levels of the football pyramid.
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. It is understood that similar actions and boycotts will be held over the summer months to raise awareness, particularly with the idea that fans can attend matches from June as normal. Fans and clubs are urged to report any online abuse through appropriate channels, no matter when or how it comes about.