London (AFP) – English Championship side Swansea City announced on Thursday they were boycotting social media for a week in protest against online abuse and discrimination, with Birmingham and Rangers taking similar steps.
Three Swansea players — Yan Dhanda, Ben Cabango and Jamal Lowe — have all been racially abused online recently.
Liverpool trio Trent Alexander-Arnold, Naby Keita and Sadio Mane became the latest in a long list of players to be targeted after Tuesday’s Champions League quarter-final first-leg loss to Real Madrid.
Swansea have written to Facebook and Twitter calling for tougher punishments for those found guilty of posting “cowardly” abuse.
“From 5:00 pm (1600 GMT) today all first-team players, those in the academy professional phase, Swansea City Ladies, Community Trust, senior club staff and official club channels (Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, LinkedIn, Snapchat, YouTube and TikTok) will not post any content for a period of seven days,” the club said in a statement.
“As a close and diverse group of players, this is something we all feel extremely passionate about,” said Swansea captain Matt Grimes.
“Three of our squad have been racially abused in recent weeks and, as a squad and club, we wanted to take this stance as we again call on those at the forefront of social media companies to implement the change that is needed now and in the future.”
Fellow Championship side Birmingham and Scottish Premiership team Rangers later announced they were also launching week-long boycotts.
“The club stands in solidarity with Swansea City Football Club who first announced their intention to operate a social media blackout earlier today, with this fight going beyond sporting rivalries and one that must be tackled in unison,” said a statement on Birmingham’s website.
Rangers said they were concerned with the “daily racist abuse our players have to endure”, adding there was concern that levels of hate were spiralling out of control.