Thierry Henry hopes fans and players join social media boycott

Former France and Arsenal striker Thierry Henry says football’s four-day social media boycott “is a start” and hopes fans and players will join in.

English football clubs and institutions will start the boycott on 30 April to combat abuse and discrimination.

Henry took himself off social media in March because of racism and bullying.

“I hope it is going to have an impact on those companies and they are going to come out with some real ideas,” the 43-year-old told BBC Breakfast.

Premier League, English Football League and Women’s Super League clubs will join the boycott of Twitter, Facebook and Instagram, while the Football Association and Premier League will also be involved.

The Football Supporters’ Association, Professional Footballers’ Association, League Managers’ Association, Women in Football, Women’s Championship and its clubs, as well as refereeing body Professional Game Match Officials Limited, have also committed to the boycott.

“They (social media companies) are doing so little about it – to try to tackle racism, harassment and bullying,” said Henry.

"I don't think it (four days) is enough but it's a start. Not doing anything also is not going to change anything, but it's to mark a moment that enough is enough.

“You can’t be out there and say whatever you want, hide behind fake accounts. It’s a bit too easy for my liking.

“If you speak the way some people are on social media in the street then you would get arrested.”

Henry said he hoped the same “energy” from those across football in protesting and stopping plans for a European Super League could be used to tackle racism.

“Right now, the whole of English football – and I hope the players will follow – are going against those companies because enough is enough,” he added.

“You saw it with the Super League – when everyone comes together you cannot do anything about it.

“The fans and players, if you’ve had enough of it, then join because people are going to have to answer and answer properly, and not with some really light changes.

“It (social media) is a great tool but people are using it as a weapon. Everyone wants to be safe on it. I’m not on it for a little while; I’m not sad about it. You can live a normal life with it or without it.”

The UK government has previously threatened social media companies with “large fines” which could amount to “billions of pounds” if they fail to tackle abuse on their platforms.

Facebook said in February that tougher measures would be taken to tackle the issue.

Instagram, which is owned by Facebook, recently announced a tool to enable users to automatically filter out abusive messages from those they do not follow.

Original article 26.04.21 on the BBC Sport website

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