EPL players in 24-hour boycott of social media

LONDON • Professional footballers in England and Wales, including leading Premier League players, staged a 24-hour boycott of social media yesterday to protest against racist abuse, both online and from the terraces.

The #Enough online campaign was organised by the Professional Footballers' Association (PFA) after a spate of abusive posts to black players, including Manchester United full-back Ashley Young and Watford captain Troy Deeney.

The hate-filled messages came in the wake of racist chants and gestures by Montenegro fans towards Tottenham defender Danny Rose, Manchester City forward Raheem Sterling and Chelsea forward Callum Hudson-Odoi during England's 5-1 Euro 2020 qualifying victory in Podgorica last month.

The PFA is calling for social media companies like Facebook and Twitter to act more quickly over abusive message, and for the footballing authorities to take stronger action on racism.

Backing the campaign, Manchester United defender Chris Smalling said: "Throughout my career, I have developed a thick skin against verbal abuse, justifying it as just 'part of the game'. But the time has come for Twitter, Instagram and Facebook to consider regulating their channels."

Rose, who recently revealed he "could not wait to see the back of football" as he had become so worn down by racism, added: "I don't want any future players to go through what I've been through in my career.

"Collectively, we are simply not willing to stand by while too little is done by football authorities and social media companies to protect players from this disgusting abuse."

Leicester skipper Wes Morgan also claimed that "we came together on Friday to say that more must now be done to eradicate racism from our game", while Deeney felt "the players are speaking out with one voice against racism (to show) that enough is enough".

REUTERS, THE TIMES, LONDON

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on April 20, 2019, with the headline 'EPL players in 24-hour boycott of social media'. Print Edition | Subscribe