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29 Apr 2021 | 11:11

The Sport for Development Coalition is to participate in a social media boycott aimed at showing solidarity with individuals who have received discriminatory abuse online. 

In participating with the boycott, the Coalition wishes to amplify the message that nobody should have to suffer abuse, racism or harassment on social media because they play, or are involved in sport. 

The boycott, which has been led by governing and campaigning bodies in English football and cricket, will take place between 15:00 BST on Friday 30 April and 23:59 BST on Monday 3 May. No messages will be posted on social media platforms between these times.

Sanjay Bhandari, the Chair of Kick It Out which aims to expose and challenge all aspects of discrimination and unfair practices and conduct in football, said: “Social media is now sadly a regular vessel for toxic abuse. Hate has become depressingly normalised.

Social media boycott

"This boycott signifies our collective anger at the damage this causes to the people who play, watch and work in the game. Football is standing in unity with the people who receive and witness these vicious torrents of hate. 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.

"We want social media companies to do more and to act faster. We need them to make their platforms a hostile environment for trolls rather than for the football family. We need the government to hold its nerve and keep its promises to regulate. The Online Safety Bill could be a game changer and we aim to help make that happen. There should be no space for hate and everyone can play their part. If you watch, work in or love the game, join in. We can all take a stand.”

Ollie Dudfield, Executive Director of the Coalition, said: “As a sector, sport for development is committed to reducing inequality and addressing under-representation, and tackling and preventing discrimination, harassment and abuse is fundamental to our value system.

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“We stand shoulder to shoulder with those aiming to send out a clear signal, through this boycott, that more must be done to eradicate online hate.” 

The Coalition is a growing network of more than 180 organisations and charities maximising the contribution of sport and physical activity to positive social outcomes, such as maintaining mental and physical health and wellbeing, increasing educational attainment, employability and social cohesion, and reducing anti-social behaviour and entry into the criminal justice system. 

Some charities within the Coalition’s network have fundraising activities taking place during the weekend, and the Coalition respects their right to continue with those activities, whilst acknowledging they remain fully supportive of the boycott and expect to support any future collective action. 

For more information, the full Football Association statement is available to view here.