Swansea, Birmingham City boycott social media to protest racism
Birmingham City logo. Steven Paston-EMPICS/Contributor

Swansea City, Birmingham City boycott social media to protest racist abuse

Late last month, Arsenal legend and former Major League Soccer player and manager Thierry Henry announced he was leaving social media platforms because of a perceived lack of action in preventing and prohibiting racist abuse. 

On Thursday, English clubs Swansea City and Birmingham City both announced they are stepping away from social media for seven days to bring awareness to online racist and other abusive messages. 

"As a football club, we have seen several of our players subjected to abhorrent abuse in the past seven weeks alone, and we feel it is right to take a stand against behaviour that is a blight on our sport, and society at large," Swansea explained in an official statement. 

"We will always be unwavering in our support of our players, staff, supporters and the community that we proudly represent, and we are united as a club on this issue.

"We also want to stand with players from other clubs who have had to endure vile discrimination on social media platforms.

"As a club we are also acutely aware of how social media can impact on the mental health of players and staff, and we hope our strong stance will highlight the wider effects of abuse.

"Additionally, chief executive Julian Winter has sent a letter to Twitter CEO, Jack Dorsey, and Facebook’s founder, chairman and CEO, Mark Zuckerberg to reiterate the club’s stance and desire to see social media companies introduce more stringent policing and punishments for those guilty of the appalling and cowardly abuse that has sadly become far too common."

Birmingham, meanwhile, declared the club "stands in solidarity with Swansea City Football Club" in the fight to eliminate hate-filled abuse. 

"By removing our content from these platforms, we intend to starve the perpetrators of such abusive and discriminatory behaviour of a space in which they can carry out offences that are not only criminal but deeply harmful to the wellbeing of groups and individuals," Birmingham said. 

"As a Football Club, we stand for beyond what simply happens on the field of play and are proud to be one part of the game’s diverse past, present and future. Therefore, we feel it is our responsibility to make this stand on behalf of everyone that the game touches.

"Football is a global unifier and a universally understood language that must be safely available to everyone. At present, the inaction of social media platforms means this is not the case.

"The time for talk is over and we strongly hope that this action will be recognised by every social media company with whom we invite open dialogue.

"The Club actively encourages all stakeholders and supporters to join them in this stance. We thank our commercial partners for their support."

The Premier League and broadcast partners such as Sky Sports have vocally and publicly taken steps to demand platforms such as Instagram and Twitter ban any accounts linked with racist abuse sent to players, staff members and official club accounts. 

“As a close and diverse group of players, this is something we all feel extremely passionate about,” Swansea City captain Matt Grimes said for the prepared statement. 

"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.

"I find it staggering that we are still talking about racism and abuse of this kind. We are acutely aware of the pressures within football at this level, but it shouldn’t be underestimated as to how such levels of abuse can affect someone.

"Social media has provided so many positives over the last decade, however, the sickening and vile abuse that we are seeing on a daily and weekly basis is wholly unacceptable, and we hope that this stance across the club will be supported by everyone.

"We are a family, and we will always stand shoulder to shoulder with each other, whether that’s on the pitch or helping to fight injustice off it."

The statements from both clubs end: "Enough is enough." 

Zac Wassink is a football and futbol aficionado who is a PFWA member and is probably yelling about Tottenham Hotspur at the moment. Erik Lamela and Eli Manning apologist. Chanted for Matt Harvey to start the ninth inning of Game 5 of the 2015 World Series at Citi Field. Whoops. You can find him on Twitter at @ZacWassink

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