UEFA joins social media boycott as protest spreads

Earlier the Rugby Football Union (RFU) said all its social media channels, including England Rugby, Premier 15s, Greene King IPA Championship and GB7s will switch off social media accounts until Monday evening.

UEFA joins social media boycott against online abuse   -  REUTERS

A sports' social media boycott was gathering strength on Thursday with several organisations joining England's football leagues in a show of solidarity against online abuse.

European football governing body UEFA said it would join this weekend's boycott, as is England Rugby and British Cycling.

UEFA said it would stay silent across its platforms, starting at 1500 BST (1600 CEST) on Friday.

Earlier the Rugby Football Union (RFU) said all its social media channels, including England Rugby, Premier 15s, Greene King IPA Championship and GB7s will switch off social media accounts until Monday evening.

UEFA president Aleksander Ceferin said action needed to be taken after a rise in online abuse and hate directed at footballers and those involved with the game.

"There have been abuses both on the pitch and on social media. This is unacceptable and needs to be stopped, with the help of the public and legislative authorities and the social media giants," he said in a statement.

READ | English, Scottish rugby players latest to join football in social media boycott

"Allowing a culture of hatred to grow with impunity is dangerous, very dangerous, not only for football, but for society as a whole. We've had enough of these cowards who hide behind their anonymity to spew out their noxious ideologies."

England women's rugby captain Sarah Hunter said that while social media has helped bring fans together, online abuse, racism and harassment should not be endured.

The campaign has also received backing from Premiership Rugby, English cricket and the Lawn Tennis Association (LTA), as well as broadcasters BT Sport, Sky Sports and talkSPORT.

British Cycling CEO Brian Facer said his organisation would switch off its social channels this weekend.

"Sport should be inclusive, diverse and welcoming, and athletes must be able to engage with the public without being on the receiving end of sustained, pervasive and abhorrent abuse," he said in a statement.

"Equally importantly, the social media companies have a responsibility to be good corporate citizens, and along with other national governing bodies, clubs and individuals, we call on these companies to play their part too."

The Professional Darts Corporation and Professional Darts Players' Association are also joining the boycott.