Scottish football unites to support social media boycott amid ongoing abuse

Scottish football has come together to support a boycott of social media as part of a response to ongoing racist and discriminatory online abuse aimed at players, staff, supporters, and other figures within the game.

Scottish football will take a stand by limiting social media output

Clubs across Scotland will join the Scottish FA, SPFL Scottish Women’s Football, and PFA Scotland in “going silent” on social media from 3pm on Friday April 30 until 11.59pm on Monday May 3.

Teams have been invited to include the campaign hashtag #FootballUnites if they issue any limited updates during the window.

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SPFL chief executive Neil Doncaster said: “The online abuse received by some of those involved in our game is absolutely abhorrent.

"The SPFL is committed to ensuring that Scottish football is inclusive and welcoming to all. Players and supporters from diverse backgrounds have played, and continue to play, an enormously positive and valued role in our game. Diversity is part of what makes Scottish football what it is, it should be protected and championed.

“As a society, we all have a responsibility to stamp out abusive behaviour and ensure that everyone, regardless of background, can enjoy football in this country without fear of receiving hate-filled messages online.

“Social media provides a wonderful platform for clubs of all sizes to communicate with their fans but it is also a medium that is being abused by a vile and mindless minority. These cowards often hide behind anonymous accounts and it is incumbent upon social media companies to actively and aggressively combat this problem.

“The SPFL will continue to work with our member clubs and partners to drive home the message that there’s no place in our game for discrimination of any kind.”

Scottish FA chief executive Ian Maxwell added: “The Scottish FA is proud to play our part in supporting the social media boycott.

“Through the work of our Equality and Diversity Board we have set up Football Unites, an equality framework that underlines our commitment to fairness, justice, respect, inclusion and the removal of barriers.

“We are also in dialogue with social media companies to ensure adequate preventative measures are put in place to tackle the specific issue of online abuse.”

Vivienne MacLaren, Scottish Women’s Football Chair, revealed that while social media was a valuable vehicle for promotion, there had been an increase in “abusive and discriminatory language” aimed at those involved in the women’s game.

She added: “We have made it very clear we will not tolerate this.

“We hope this action reminds media owners that they must stand up to this abusive behaviour and make perpetrators think twice.”

Fraser Wishart, PFA Scotland chief executive called for online abusers “hiding behind their keyboards” to stop.

He said: “Comments can be hurtful to players and their families and have a profound effect on their lives. In 2021 our members deserve much better.”

Jordan Allison of Show Racism the Red Card welcomed the decision and believes it should mark the “beginning of a powerful campaign urging social media companies and governing bodies to address the concerns of black and ethnic minority players and supporters”.

He continued: “Players are on the receiving end of hatred on an almost daily basis on social media. These traumatising experiences are enabled by platforms that put the monetisation of footballers before their welfare.

“Social media can and must do more.”

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