Crystal Palace’s Andros Townsend says that the social media boycott by English football which begins this afternoon is just the start of a fightback against online abuse and discrimination.
Townsend, Palace and the majority of clubs in the country will be staying off Twitter, Instagram, Facebook and other social media platforms from 3pm today until midnight on Monday. The move has widespread support, including from non-league clubs such as Croydon FC and fanzines and fan websites, such as The Eagles Beak.
Backed by the football authorities, the players and clubs want action from the multi-billion multi-national tech firms to stop their platforms being used to stoke up racist and other forms of abuse.
Townsend’s father, Troy, is the head of development for the anti-discrimination charity Kick It Out.
“We’re starting to fight back,” former England full-back Andros told the BBC.
“I’m proud of the players. We’re finally finding our voices and speaking up as a community.
“Hopefully it’ll let the major media companies know that we’re not going to take this abuse any more.
“Do I think a three- or four-day blackout will make a difference? Probably not, but what it does do is send a warning to these companies that if you don’t start regulating your platforms, it’s going to be an indefinite blackout.”
The issues have inevitably divided opinion, even among teammates. Palace star Wilfried Zaha was the first Premier League player to choose to stop taking the knee – the solidarity gesture adopted last year at the beginning of matches to support the Black Lives Matter movement. Zaha felt that the gesture had become meaningless and that more needed to be done.
In his BBC interview, Townsend said, “People are starting to fail to see the relevance of taking a knee – ‘it’s a flippant gesture, it doesn’t mean anything, nothing’s being done’.
“But if fans do return next season and we hear booing, it would show the importance of taking a knee, wearing the badge, the campaigns.
“Hopefully it doesn’t happen, but it could end up being a positive.”
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