EPL

Man Utd expose extent of abuse ahead of social media boycott

By Sports Desk April 30, 2021

Manchester United have exposed the stark levels of abuse aimed at their players ahead of a four-day social media boycott.

Football clubs and players all over England will be joined in the action, which runs from 1500 BST on Friday until 2359 BST on Monday, by UEFA and major bodies across cricket, rugby union, tennis, rugby league and other sports.

The move follows an increase in online abuse aimed at sportspeople, with United's research offering a glimpse at how bad the problem is.

United revealed a 350 per cent increase in abuse directed towards their players since September 2019, with 86 per cent of 3,300 abusive posts categorised as being racist in nature.

A further eight per cent were deemed homophobic or transphobic.

"It must be said that while these numbers are shocking, they do only represent a 0.01 per cent of conversations that take place on social media about the club and the players," said group managing director Richard Arnold.

"By taking part in this boycott this weekend, we, alongside the rest of English football, want to shine a light on the issue. It will generate debate and discussion and will raise awareness of the levels of abuse our players and our fans receive."

An announcement of the boycott came jointly last Saturday from numerous organisations in football, including the Premier League, the English Football League, the Football Association, the Professional Footballers' Association, the Women’s Super League and the Women’s Championship.

"While some progress has been made, we reiterate those requests today in an effort to stem the relentless flow of discriminatory messages and ensure that there are real-life consequences for purveyors of online abuse across all platforms," the groups said in a release.

"Boycott action from football in isolation will, of course, not eradicate the scourge of online discriminatory abuse, but it will demonstrate that the game is willing to take voluntary and proactive steps in this continued fight."

Since that statement was released, other bodies have declared they will join the boycott from across various sports, with cycling, horseracing and hockey also on board.

Football's European governing body, UEFA, also pledged its support in a strongly worded statement from president Aleksander Ceferin on Thursday.

"We've had enough of these cowards who hide behind their anonymity to spew out their noxious ideologies," he said.

The move instigated by England's footballing bodies follows them sending a letter to social media companies in February, urging them to take numerous steps to take down online abuse, including quick removal of offensive posts and an improved verification process.

Some within the game have already taken individual action to protest, with Thierry Henry withdrawing from all social media platforms until the issue is appropriately addressed.

Henry's stance came after a spate of incidents of vile abuse being aimed at sportspeople online.

Chelsea put out a statement in January after Reece James was targeted, saying: "Something needs to change and it needs to change now."

Manchester United duo Anthony Martial and Axel Tuanzebe were also racially abused online after the side's loss to Sheffield United, with manager Ole Gunnar Solskjaer calling for stronger intervention from social media platforms.

Related items

  • 'Grandpa is not dead!' - Giroud insists he has no plans to call time on France career 'Grandpa is not dead!' - Giroud insists he has no plans to call time on France career

    Olivier Giroud has insisted he has no intention of calling time on his France career after Euro 2020 and says he still has "the hunger of a 20-year-old".

    The Chelsea striker, who turns 35 in September, has fallen down Les Blues' pecking order following Karim Benzema's shock return to the national team last month after a near six-year exile.

    He was an unused substitute in France's 1-0 win over Germany in their Group F opener and played the final 14 minutes in Saturday's 1-1 draw with Hungary.

    Giroud has previously suggested Euro 2020 will be his final campaign with France, but he has now declared that he has plenty more to give to his national side.

    "I'm not finished, far from it. Count on me, grandpa is not dead!" Giroud, who was one of the key members of France's World Cup-winning squad in 2018, told Le Figaro.

    "I'm almost 35 but have the hunger of a 20-year-old guy. I know how to do it with the team.

    "The France team has a fairly incredible strike force, but I have a card to play because there are no other players with my profile. I am here to respond and bring what I want.

    "I have the desire and, if the young people want to move me, they will have to be ready too."

    Giroud's appearance against Hungary was his 100th in a France shirt while playing under Didier Deschamps.

    No other player for Les Bleus has ever recorded a century of senior international appearances with the same man in charge.

    The closest players to Giroud's tally under Deschamps are Antoine Griezmann (93 appearances), Hugo Lloris (90), Paul Pogba (82) and Blaise Matuidi (80).

    He has won 109 caps in total for France and has 46 goals to his name, leaving him second in the nation's all-time top scorers list and just five short of Thierry Henry's record.

    Chelsea confirmed earlier this month they have activated a 12-month extension in Giroud's contract, but he continues to be linked with Serie A giants Milan.

  • England duo Mount and Chilwell told to isolate up to and including June 28 England duo Mount and Chilwell told to isolate up to and including June 28

    England duo Mason Mount and Ben Chilwell will miss the match with the Czech Republic and must self-isolate up to and including June 28.

    It was confirmed on Monday that the Chelsea players had begun isolating after being deemed close contacts of Billy Gilmour, who tested positive for coronavirus after Scotland's 0-0 draw with England at Wembley last Friday.

    The Football Association said the precautions had been taken after consultation with Public Health England, despite both players returning negative PCR and lateral flow test results.

    On Tuesday, the FA said Chilwell and Mount will train individually in private areas of England's St. George's Park base, where the rest of the squad will return after their final Group D match with the Czech Republic.

    It means that, should England win and top the group, Mount and Chilwell will miss the last-16 match, which takes place on June 29.

    If Gareth Southgate's side fail to take three points, they will finish second in the group behind the Czech Republic, meaning their first knockout match will be on June 28.

    England said via Twitter: "We can confirm that Ben Chilwell and Mason Mount must isolate up to and including next Monday [28 June]. This decision has been taken in consultation with Public Health England.

    "The pair were confirmed overnight as close contacts of Scotland’s Billy Gilmour after his positive test following last Friday's match.

    "Chilwell and Mount will isolate and train individually in private areas at England’s training base St. George's Park, with the rest of the squad returning there after tonight's fixture against Czech Republic at Wembley.

    "We will continue to follow all COVID-19 protocols and the UEFA testing regime, while remaining in close contact with PHE.

    "The entire England squad and staff had lateral flow tests on Monday and all were again negative, as was the case with Sunday's UEFA pre-match PCR tests. 

    "Further tests will be carried out as and when appropriate."

  • UEFA turns down request for 'rainbow lights' at Allianz Arena for political reasons UEFA turns down request for 'rainbow lights' at Allianz Arena for political reasons

    UEFA has rejected a request for Germany to light up the Allianz Arena in rainbow colours for Wednesday's Euro 2020 clash with Hungary because of political reasons.

    Mayor of Munich Dieter Reiter said on Sunday that he has asked UEFA for permission to illuminate the stadium in support of the LGBTQ+ community.

    Reiter made the request after Hungary passed a law that prohibits the sharing of content in schools that could be deemed to promote homosexuality and gender change.

    However, while UEFA understands the gesture, European football's governing body has proposed alternative dates for the stadium to be lit up, rather than on the day of the Hungary game.

    "Racism, homophobia, sexism, and all forms of discrimination are a stain on our societies – and represent one of the biggest problems faced by the game today," read a UEFA statement on Tuesday.

    "Discriminatory behaviour has marred both matches themselves and, outside the stadiums, the online discourse around the sport we love.

    "However UEFA, through its statutes, is a politically and religiously neutral organisation. Given the political context of this specific request – a message aiming at a decision taken by the Hungarian national parliament – UEFA must decline this request.

    "UEFA has nevertheless proposed to the city of Munich to illuminate the stadium with the rainbow colours on either 28 June – the Christopher Street Liberation Day – or between 3 and 9 July which is the Christopher Street Day week in Munich."

    Christopher Street Day is an annual European LGBTQ+ celebration and demonstration held in various cities across Europe for the rights of the LGBTQ+ community.

    UEFA last week opened an investigation into Germany goalkeeper Manuel Neuer wearing a rainbow-coloured captain's armband in his side's opening two Euro 2020 fixtures against France and Portugal.

    But amid widespread criticism, the probe was halted after the governing body deemed it "a good cause".

© 2020 SportsMaxTV All Rights Reserved.