Story at a glance
- Three U.K. soccer clubs are boycotting social media in protest of racist abuse players have received on social media.
- The three club teams involved include Swansea City, England's Birmingham City, and Scotland’s Rangers Football Club.
- Racism in soccer has been a hot-button issue for years.
Three U.K. soccer clubs announced on Thursday a weeklong boycott of social media in protest of racism and abuse being hurled at some players online.
"This decision has been taken as a result of conversations between senior club staff, players and management,” Swansea City, one of the clubs participating in the boycott, said. "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.”
Hours after Swansea City’s announcement, England's Birmingham City and Scotland’s Rangers Football Club released statements saying they would be following suit.
Swansea City stated that in the last seven weeks, players Yan Dhanda, Ben Cabango and Jamal Lowe all received “appalling racist abuse via social media.”
Soccer as a sport has a complicated history with racist acts, not only online but also by fans and other players during games. And the issue isn’t only in Britain.
Last month, various U.S. soccer players teamed up with the social impact collective Common Goal to launch The Anti-Racist Project, or The ARP.
This collective is working to fund guidelines and tools, created by Black, Indigenous and people of color within U.S. soccer, that will then be implemented as anti-racism trainings for "players, coaches, fans, club staff and executives."
Among U.S. soccer players who joined The ARP are Tony Sanneh, Alex Morgan, Eric Cantona, and Megan Rapinoe.
Announcing the coalition, Sanneh, a former U.S. Men's National Team player, recalled “being chased around the field being called the N-word" while playing in high school and games in Germany where opposing team fans would hurl racial slurs at him, making monkey sounds and tossing bananas at him.
"For every person of color who plays the game, it haunts you. Those experiences haunt you," Sanneh said.
The sentiment for the current social media blackout is the same.
“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,” Swansea City captain Matt Grimes said.
“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.”
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