Should Premier League and Burnley follow Rangers, Swansea City and Birmingham City's lead on social media boycott?

A growing number of players and football clubs have decided to boycott social media over perceived inaction as regards online abuse.

Friday, 9th April 2021, 3:05 pm
Updated Friday, 9th April 2021, 3:06 pm
Glen Kamara clashes with Ondrej Kudela of Slavia Prague

Last week, Thierry Henry has deactivated all his social media accounts, saying: "I thought it was time to make a stand and time to make people realise it is not OK to get abused online, it's not OK to be bullied or harassed online,” Henry said.

"The impact it can have on your mental health is second to none, we know people are committing suicides because of it. Enough is enough. We need actions.

"It is too easy to get an account and get away with it at times."

And this week, Championship sides Swansea City and Birmingham City began a week-long boycott of all social media platforms, before Rangers demanded “clear and direct action”, on the back of racist abuse aimed at Glen Kamara, since accusing Slavia Plague defender Ondrej Kudela of racism during last month’s Europa League tie.

A statement on Rangers’ website read: “Rangers can confirm that as of 7pm this evening (8th April), our players and management will take part in a week-long boycott of all social media channels.

“This is to underline the ongoing concerns over a lack of accountability and responsibility from social media outlets.”

A month ago, Burnley left back Erik Pieters received a barrage of abuse, some directed at his then-unborn child, after a penalty was not awarded against him for a perceived handball offence in the 1-1 draw against Arsenal at Turf Moor.

He admits he "didn’t give them any attention, I just got on with my life" but there are calls for more to be done to hold people responsible for what they put out on social media.

It remains to be seen if Premier League clubs follow the lead of Swansea, Birmingham and Rangers, or if there is a bigger, collective effort to make a stand.

But Burnley boss Sean Dyche feels it is a societal problem, more than just an issue for football: "I think every club will have a view on it, our personal view is - I remind you, I'm not against social media, we just ask our players to refrain from getting involved in football chatter and about football moments and talking points, to keep it really simple.

"But the powers that be of social media, not individual football clubs - I can only imagine it's way beyond them to try and make sure things are correct and proper, but if clubs feel they can do something, then fine.

"I think it's beyond football, it's a much wider picture, I'm not actively on social media, so I don't understand enough about it, but powers beyond football need to start getting hold of people writing vulgar or inappropriate things.

"Football seems to be taking on a lot at the moment, everything seems linked to football."