In April, professional footballers across the leagues took part in ‘#Enough’ - a 24- hour social media boycott led by the PFA. This was a day of action to highlight the racist and discriminatory abuse many of our members were receiving in the course of their work - both across social media platforms and on the pitch.
The boycott made a huge impact globally, with a reach of 90 million+. However, #Enough was not just a 24-hours of action. Since, we’ve been continuing the campaign by working directly with football’s governing bodies and the social networks on behalf of our membership.
A month into the new season, we have seen several high-profile racist incidents already – so now is an appropriate time to provide an update on what’s been achieved since April, and what’s coming next.
#Enough aimed to demonstrate that professional players’ continued participation on social channels represents a significant commercial value to the platforms. The content, conversation and revenue generated by footballers on social media is substantial. As such, players have a powerful voice when speaking as a collective.
The campaign was effective in making the social networks take notice and has subsequently opened a wider dialogue between the football industry and Twitter, Facebook and Instagram. Shortly after
the boycott, we met with the networks to discuss the campaign. Following this, The FA, Premier League, EFL, Kick It Out and several clubs have also joined the conversation by meeting with the social networks.
Opening the Conversation
- We have met with The FA, Premier League and EFL, ensuring that as stakeholders we have a coordinated approach in our work with social media companies.
- The PFA have held meetings with Twitter – Wes Morgan joined us to represent the player’s voice.
- The PFA have held meetings with Facebook and Instagram.
- We have contributed to the government’s Online Harms White Paper, highlighting the experiences of our members.
Action from the Social Media Networks
We have discussed joint club visits with the PFA and social networks:
- To allow players to speak directly to the networks to share their experiences.
- To enable the social networks to educate players around protections built into their platforms to help deal with abuse, such as reporting, blocking and muting.
- To inform and involve players in solutions moving forward.
Action from the PFA
The PFA are currently exploring using Artificial Intelligence (AI) and online analytic tools to effectively monitor the extent of social media abuse on an ongoing basis.
This season, we will also be changing the format of our Equality & Diversity workshops. Previously, the sessions have reiterated and outlined the player’s responsibilities in this area. However, this year we will take a more consultative approach and want to hear further from players about their experiences and expectations.
Social Media and Workplace Protections
We believe that social media participation is increasingly becoming an extended part of a footballer’s workplace. We intend to explore the protections and obligations that should be afforded to them on this basis.
Ensuring a Joined-Up Approach
We are working towards a collaborative approach, bringing all networks together with football’s stakeholders for a series of meetings to discuss action points and solutions moving forward.
What are we Calling for?
Our members have high profile accounts and are often a target for abuse. We are calling for extended protection for our members on social networks and we believe the proposals below will be important and applicable for all users.
We are calling for social networks to commit to:
The Swift Removal of Hateful Posts
We want the social media networks to provide targeted monitoring of player accounts, club accounts, key fixtures and tournaments to address any racist abuse promptly. We want sufficient resources dedicated to identifying and removing offending posts without delay.
Changes in Policy or Thresholds
Temporarily suspending the accounts of users engaging in racist and discriminatory abuse is not enough. We believe that account-holders of hateful posts should be permanently deleted from the platform. Equally, users should not have to engage in ‘repeated’ instances of racist abuse to contravene policies. Once is too much – zero tolerance is the only responsible action.
Offline Consequences for Online Action
Social media must have better links with the police and football authorities on this issue.
Currently, there is a lack of responsibility for ensuring offline consequences. If users can be identified, they should be reported to the police and the relevant football bodies – including clubs and The FA.
Enhanced Visibility of Outcomes Reporting
In addition, we would like to see greater transparency available to users who have reported abuse; not just that a report has resulted in a violation, but also an update on the outcome – i.e. the offending account has been permanently suspended.
Collaborative Thinking and Transparency
All football stakeholders and social media networks need to continue work together to address all forms of discrimination online and within football. Players need transparency and assurance that the issue is being treated as a matter of urgency.
Contact the PFA
As always, if any players have experienced any racist or discriminatory abuse as a professional footballer, the PFA are here to support you. Sharing your story also helps strengthen our position when we meet with the social networks on your behalf.
Players interested in joining the PFA at future ‘Enough’ meetings with social networks, can email firstname.lastname@example.org and one of our Equalities team will be in contact with you.