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English sport boycotts social networks to protest racism

Black screen on social networks: several sportsmen and clubs, mainly English, on Friday launched a boycott movement planned to last all weekend in order to protest against insults online, in particular racism.

Manchester United football club, the seven-time Formula 1 world champion Lewis Hamilton, but also the International Tennis Federation and even UEFA: after threats for several weeks, the sports movement took action on Friday.

Insults and insults against players on social networks have multiplied by 4.5 since September 2019, Manchester United denounced Friday: 86% of the publications targeted included racist insults and 8% were homophobic or transphobic. Mancuniens Anthony Martial and Marcus Rashford were particularly the target.

Prince William in support

The Red Devils decided not to feed their Facebook, Twitter and Instagram accounts this weekend in protest.

The club will be far from being the only one to disconnect. “From 3:00 p.m. today (4:00 p.m. in France, editor’s note), we will stop feeding our social networks and we will remain silent until Tuesday, May 4”, decided on Friday the English Premier League.

“We take this position, with the football community, to fight against online abuse and discrimination on social networks”, justified the organization.

“The online abuse must stop. Social networks need to do more. #NoRoomForRacism #StopOnlineAbuse » the Premier League wrote on Twitter at the start of the move.

Prince William, second in the line of succession to Queen Elizabeth II and (honorary) president of the English Football Association (FA) announced to join “To the entire football community” and stop his social media activities for the weekend.

Manchester United, whose players have been particularly targeted, recently banned six fans, including three year-round subscribers, accused of insulting Tottenham’s South Korean striker Son Heung-min on social media.

Formula 1 concerned

Other British organizations, such as the Rugby or Cycling Federations, as well as the English and Welsh Cricket Federations have joined the movement.

Several Formula 1 drivers have also engaged, including the seven-time world champion Lewis Hamilton, very committed against racism.

“As a sign of solidarity with the world of football, my social networks will remain black this weekend. Discrimination, whether online or not, has no place in our society, but for too long it has been easy for a few to post hate messages behind their screens ”, wrote the pilot on his social networks.

His compatriots in the paddock, Lando Norris and George Russell, announced the same decision in the morning. They were followed in particular by the Finnish Valtteri Bottas, the Dutchman Max Verstappen, the Monegasque Charles Leclerc, the Frenchman Esteban Ocon …

Pressure on Facebook and Twitter

F1 said Thursday to support the movement, without taking part, but other international bodies have taken the plunge.

This is the case on Friday of the International Tennis Federation (ITF) which pointed out the responsibility of the platforms. “It is time for the companies at the head of social networks to take a stand and support sport’s efforts to stop abuse, everywhere on social networks”, the ITF said in a statement, emulated by the Grand Slam tournaments at Roland Garros and Wimbledon.

UEFA did the same on Thursday, its Slovenian boss Aleksander Ceferin lamenting that a “Culture of hate” may “To grow up in impunity”.

On February 11, in an open letter to Twitter boss Jack Dorsey and Facebook boss Mark Zuckerberg, English football officials called for action “For reasons of simple human decency”. Twitter replied that it did not intend to censor comments from anonymous accounts.

Calls for players to withdraw from social networks have multiplied in recent weeks. Ex-Arsenal and Blues striker Thierry Henry announced at the end of March to withdraw until platforms do more to fight racism and harassment “Toxic”.

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