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 towards 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.
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 (in England, 4:00 p.m. in Belgium, editor’s note), we will stop feeding our social networks and we will remain silent until Tuesday, May 4,” the English Premier League decided on Friday.
“We take this position, with the football community, to fight against online abuse and discrimination on social networks,” said the organization.
English Premier League clubs have also announced that they have taken sanctions against six people accused of insulting South Korean striker Tottenham Son Heung-min on social media.
Other British organizations, such as the English Rugby Federation, the Cycling Federation or the English and Welsh Cricket Federations have joined the movement.
In France, the French Rugby Federation announced on Friday “responding to the call for a boycott of social networks in order to raise awareness and denounce the scourge of racism, harassment and discrimination on the internet”, as did the club of FC Nantes football.
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 some- ones from posting hate messages behind their screens, ”the pilot wrote on his social media.
His compatriots in the paddock Lando Norris and George Russell announced the same decision in the morning.
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’s time for the leading social media companies to take a stand and support sport’s efforts to stop the name calling everywhere on social media,” the ITF said in a statement.
UEFA did the same on Thursday and its Slovenian boss Aleksander Ceferin lamented that a “culture of hatred” could “grow in impunity”.
On February 11, in an open letter to Twitter leader Jack Dorsey and Facebook leader 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. The former Arsenal and Blues striker Thierry Henry announced at the end of March to withdraw until the platforms do more to fight against racism and “toxic” harassment.