European sport joins forces to fight racism

UEFA President Aleksander Ceferin believes the time has come for football and society to come together to stop ‘cowards’ from spreading online abuse.

European football governing body UEFA confirmed on Thursday that it will take part in a collective social media boycott this weekend as part of a united sporting front against racism and discrimination.

The action was initially launched by English football’s governing bodies as they all suspended the use of their social media accounts.

Since it was first announced, the boycott has intensified as more sports governing bodies, sponsors, partners, broadcasters and media have joined us.

Ceferin hopes such direct action will speak volumes about the drive for change as social media goes silent this weekend.

He said: “There has been abuse both on the pitch and on social media. This is unacceptable and must be stopped, with the help of public and legislative authorities and the social media giants.

“Letting a culture of hate grow with impunity is dangerous, very dangerous, not just for football, but for society as a whole.

“That’s why we support this initiative. It’s time for football to take a stand.”

UK rugby league, rugby union, hockey, cycling, cricket, horse racing and tennis bodies take part, as do many of the UK’s top sports broadcasters.

Sir Lewis Hamilton is also set to join this weekend’s social media blackout, saying: “I fully support the initiative.

“If I do that, it helps put pressure on those platforms to help fight that, so of course I’m happy to do that.”

Ruth J. Leeds