ECB follows football with social media blackout in fight against racism

English and Welsh cricket will join football’s boycott of social media this weekend in a show of solidarity against racism and discrimination.

The England and Wales Cricket Board, all 18 first-class counties, the eight women’s regional teams and the Professional Cricketers’ Association will boycott platforms between 3pm on Friday and 11.59pm on Monday night.

The move follows last week’s announcement by a coalition of English football’s largest governing bodies – including the Football Association, Premier League and EFL – that they would go silent on social media following a rise in abuse directed at players and other individuals within the game.

The ECB’s announcement came after broadcasters BT Sport and talkSPORT also said on Wednesday they would join the boycott.

ECB chief executive Tom Harrison said: “As a sport, we are united in our commitment to fight racism and we will not tolerate the kind of discriminatory abuse that has become so prevalent on social media platforms.

“Social media can play a very positive role in sport, widening its audience and connecting fans with their heroes in a way that was never possible before.

“However, players and supporters alike must be able to use these platforms safe in the knowledge they do not risk the prospect of facing appalling abuse.”

Stuart Broad has previously supported a boycott

Stuart Broad has previously supported a boycott (Jon Super/NMC Pool/PA)

Earlier this month, England bowler Stuart Broad told the PA news agency he would support a boycott of social media after abuse was directed at his team-mate Jofra Archer.

“There are great positives to social media but if we have to lose those positives for a period time to make a stand then I’d be well up for that,” Broad said.

The action was launched last weekend by football’s governing bodies, with 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, who will all suspend use of their social media accounts.

Since it was first announced the boycott has grown as sponsors, partners and broadcasters get on board.

BT Sport posted on Twitter: “This horrific cycle of online abuse needs to end. We stand united with the football community against online hate.”

It added: “The only content to appear on our channels across this weekend will be in relation to social media abuse.”

Head of talkSPORT Lee Clayton said: “TalkSPORT is proud to join the social media boycott to speak up for those who have suffered real and lasting abuse on social media.

“TalkSPORT’s social media is an important part of our multimedia offering with 5.6m followers across our social platforms. But now is the time to stand with the football community against hate.

“Racism is of course a big part of this boycott. But it also spans sexism, hateful and hostile content, discrimination and general abuse too.

“As a station we are taking steps to protect our own presenters from abuse from social media trolls and this is an important statement that online hate will not be tolerated.”

The PA news agency understands Sky Sports, which is partnered with anti-discrimination body Kick It Out, is supportive of the boycott.

Manchester United midfielder Paul Pogba looks into the distance

Manchester United’s shirt manufacturer adidas is joining the social media boycott (Adrian Dennis/PA)

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.

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, with online car retailer Cazoo, shirt sponsors of Aston Villa and Everton, on Tuesday becoming the first major football sponsor to announce its support.

Liverpool v Manchester City – Premier League – Anfield

Liverpool captain Jordan Henderson has said he would consider coming off social media all together (Tim Keeton/PA)

This weekend’s boycott 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 Lawn Tennis Association has already confirmed its involvement in the boycott, although the Rugby Football Union and golf’s European Tour have opted not to join in.

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