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Professional footballers to boycott social media for 24 hours in racism protest

By Justice Kofi Bimpeh
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Professional footballers in England and Wales are to boycott social media for 24 hours on Friday, to protest against the way social networks and football authorities respond to racism.

It follows a number of high-profile incidents in domestic and international matches this season. Earlier this week, Manchester United captain Ashley Young was racially abused on Twitter.

And Watford captain Troy Deeney said "enough is enough".

"On Friday we are sending a message to anyone that abuses players - or anyone else - whether from the crowd or online, that we won't tolerate it within football," said Deeney, who disabled comments on his Instagram after abuse earlier this month.

"The boycott is just one small step, but the players are speaking out with one voice against racism."

How is football tackling racism on social media?

Racist chanting was directed at several England players including Danny Rose during a Euro 2020 qualifier in Montenegro last month - the Spurs defender later said he "can't wait to see the back of football".

"I don't want any future players to go through what I've been through in my career," said Rose. "Collectively, we are simply not willing to stand by while too little is done by football authorities and social media companies to protect players from this disgusting abuse."

The #Enough campaign, organised by the Professional Footballers' Association, starts at 09:00 BST on Friday and runs until 09:00 BST on Saturday. Players have been encouraged to post a #Enough graphic on their social media platforms before the boycott.

Manchester United defender Chris Smalling added: "The time has come for Twitter, Instagram and Facebook to consider regulating their channels, taking responsibility for protecting the mental health of users regardless of age, race, sex or income."

The PFA said the boycott was the "first step in a longer campaign to tackle racism in football".

"The boycott acts as a show of unity by the players, and a call for stronger action to be taken by social networks and footballing authorities in response to racist abuse both on and off the pitch," the PFA said in a statement.

Young was abused after United's Champions League exit to Barcelona on Tuesday. Accounts identified in this case as violating Twitter's abusive behaviour policy have been prevented from posting again until the offending tweets have been removed.

Incidents of racist abuse in 2018-19

December: Banana skin thrown on to the pitch during the north London derby at Emirates Stadium, after Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang scored for Arsenal

December: Raheem Sterling suffers alleged racial abused during Manchester City's defeat at Chelsea. Sterling later says newspapers are helping to "fuel racism" by the ways in which they portray young black footballers

March: Chelsea lodge a complaint with Uefa over racist abuse aimed at Callum Hudson-Odoi during the second leg of their Europa League win at Dynamo Kiev

March: England report racist abuse of players during their 5-1 win over Montenegro in Podgorica

April: Juventus' 19-year-old Italian forward Moise Kean suffers racist abuse from the stands during a match at Cagliari - with team-mate Leonardo Bonucci's suggestion that Kean was partly to blame called laughable by Raheem Sterling

April: Derby winger Duane Holmes and Wigan defender Nathan Byrne are targeted by the alleged racist abuse in the Championship

April: Deeney and Watford team-mates Adrian Mariappa and Christian Kabasele receive racist abuse on social media

April: Young targeted on Twitter

Source: BBC