The social media boycott to protest against online racism could become a matter for debate in the House of Commons as MP Julie Elliott wants Parliament to discuss the issues it raises.
A coalition of English football’s largest governing bodies and organisations including the Football Association, Premier League and EFL announced last weekend they will go silent on social media in a show of solidarity against racism.
The FA Women’s Super League, FA Women’s Championship, Professional Footballers’ Association, League Managers Association, PGMOL, Kick It Out, Women in Football and the Football Supporters’ Association will also suspend all use of their social media accounts from 3pm on Friday April 30 until 11.59pm on Monday May 3.
Elliott, a member of the Digital, Culture, Media and Sport Select Committee, has written to the Leader of the House of Commons requesting Parliamentary time be put aside to debate the boycott.
“This boycott is unprecedented in the industry. We have seen far too many examples of sportspeople receiving sexist, racist and homophobic abuse online,” she wrote to the Leader of the House Jacob Rees Mogg.
“I am therefore writing to you to request…. parliamentary time on the floor of the House is granted to debate this important issue.”
Adidas, which manufactures more than a third of Premier League kits – including the likes of Manchester United, Arsenal and Leicester – is stopping all advertising across its platforms this weekend.
“Adidas is proud to stand in solidarity with the football community in calling for more to be done to prevent racist, discriminatory and threatening abuse online,” said a spokesman.
The sportswear company is the latest big-name brand to join the planned social media boycott by football players, clubs, organisations and associated businesses.
Barclays, title sponsor of the WSL and the official bank of the Premier League, will support the blackout with no social media posts on the Barclays Football pages of Facebook and Instagram nor the Barclays Footy Twitter account – while the company’s other social channels will avoid all football-related activity.
Budweiser, which sponsors the England team, is also signing up.
“Budweiser and Bud Light are proud to stand with our partners and join them in this important symbolic gesture,” said senior brand manager for Budweiser UK Amar Singh.
“We oppose racism and discrimination of any form, and driving diversity and inclusion is a global priority for us.”
Online car retailer Cazoo – shirt sponsors of Aston Villa and Everton – became the first major football sponsor to announce its support, with others expected to follow suit.
“In solidarity with our partners and as a stand against totally unacceptable abuse which we condemn in the strongest terms, Cazoo will be joining this boycott of social media over this period,” a spokesperson for the company told the PA news agency.
The move follows social media blackouts by Swansea, Birmingham and Rangers in recent weeks, with Liverpool captain Jordan Henderson stating he would be willing to follow Arsenal great Thierry Henry in coming offline altogether in protest against racist behaviour.
The PA news agency understands Sky Sports, who are partnered with anti-discrimination body Kick It Out, are supportive of the social media blackout.
It could also be embraced by other sports, with the Lawn Tennis Association confirming its involvement on Monday.
But the Rugby Football Union has confirmed it is not joining the boycott and neither is golf’s European Tour.
Speaking ahead of the announced blackout, England cricketer Stuart Broad said he would welcome any such action.
“There are great positives to social media but, if we have to lose those positives for a period of time to make a stand, then I’d be well up for that,” he told the PA news agency.
“I think it is definitely worth a conversation, it’s a really strong message.
“You don’t want a small minority to ruin the opportunities you get through social media, but do you need something drastic to stop it or should there be more responsibility with app creators and more liability?”