The Professional Players Federation and its members will be among those across the sporting community who will be taking part in a social media boycott this weekend to highlight the issue of social media abuse, including racism, sexism and many kinds of discrimination suffered by sporting participants that continues to go unaddressed.
Initiated by the football community, other sports who will be joining the boycott include cricket, rugby, horseracing, darts and netball. The boycott will start at 15.00 on Friday 30th April and end at 23.59 on Monday 3rd May. Horseracing’s boycott will start at 9pm this evening, following a planned commemoration of the life of Lorna Brooke, the amateur jockey who sadly lost her life following injuries incurred during racing earlier this month.
PPF Chairman, Brendon Batson OBE said:
“Player associations have been at the forefront of calls for the abuse suffered by players across sport to stop. We fully support this boycott and are continuing to work on ways that players can be supported and protected from this abuse. The perpetrators of vile and illegal abuse must be be sanctioned and their accounts removed more quickly. Sport, Government and the social media companies have a duty of care to protect players and society from online abuse.”
Simone Pound, Director of EDI at the PFA said:
"Social media channels represent an extension of the working environment for professional footballers, and as the players' union, we are committed to finding solutions that better protect our membership and the wider community from online abuse.
"As part of our work to address this issue, which started with the 24-hour #Enough boycott of social media channels, the PFA has been pushing for collaboration between the platforms, the game, the Government, police and CPS to find solutions and protect players from the abuse they face daily.
"In 2021, with a collective voice, we can hold social media companies to account and send a powerful message to a global audience – abusive behaviour is unacceptable."
Paul Struthers, Chief Executive of the Professional Jockeys Association (PJA), said:
“Our members receive vile abuse on a daily basis. We are sick and tired of it and the lack of action by social media companies. We and our members stand shoulder to shoulder with other sports in sending a united message that online hate and discriminatory abuse is totally unacceptable and needs to be eliminated.”
Fraser Wishart, PFA Scotland Chief Executive said:
“PFA Scotland has long supported campaigns against all forms of discrimination and our members have kept the issues of racism and social injustice in the public eye this season. The social media boycott is another way for our members to continue to raise awareness around the issue. However, gestures alone are not enough: the abuse online by those hiding behind their keyboard must stop.
“We call upon social media companies to engage in meaningful dialogue with a view to providing a mechanism to stop and report all forms of abuse to the relevant authorities. Comments can be hurtful to players and their families and have a profound effect on their lives. In 2021 our members deserve much better.”
Liz Bloor, Director of the Netball Players Association said:
“The rising profile of netball’s elite athletes has been welcomed but regrettably this has brought with it incidents of abusive, derogatory and racist online comments aimed at some of our members. In supporting this boycott of the social media platforms, we hope that the companies concerned will follow through on their stated position that this is not acceptable and take robust action against the perpetrators. Sport should be a positive and inspiring environment for the athletes, officials and fans alike.”
Rob Lynch, PCA Chief Executive, said:
“The PCA is fully supportive of the social media boycott as cricket stands together with football and other sports in a show of solidarity against online abuse.
“Social media companies have to do more. Our members are often victims of horrific online abuse with little or no punishment for the perpetrators and this has to change.
“A unified silence from players and the wider game is a powerful stance to show that our members will not allow social media companies, which have brought so much benefit to the game, to continue to ignore and fail to prioritise the need for appropriate legislation in protecting people against online discriminatory behaviour.
“We continue to support our members while working collaboratively as a game to lobby the social media companies and the government through the Online Safety Bill for swift action in making social media a safer space for our members and wider society.”
Ethan Waller, RPA Chair said:
“Our Players Board and Diversity & Inclusion Board have both unanimously supported a player boycott to join the Draw The Line campaign. There is no place for hate speech or abuse online or anywhere. Players will not stand for it. It’s time to Draw The Line.”