Last Friday, when Swansea City announced they would be putting all social media activity for a week to a halt in protest of platforms such as Twitter and Instagram’s failure to combat racial abuse, there could only be one topic of discussion in this week’s Word of Football.
The Swans announced the boycott after Jamal Lowe, Ben Cabango and Yan Danda were subject to vile racist abuse over recent months, with Birmingham City and Glasgow Rangers among the most high-profile football clubs who followed suite, also following the example set by Thierry Henry some weeks back.
Caption: Swansea’s #EnoughisEnough campaign has been commended
The boycott has been met with universal plaudits from the football world, who wholeheartedly agree that the best approach to force social media companies into implementing more stringent safeguards to prevent this type of behavior from happening, is by inflicting the proverbial hit to the pockets.
However, most clubs are yet to join the Swans in action if not solidarity, with many, including Sam Allardyce, acknowledging that in these times, stopping social media activity will reduce a vital steam of revenue for individual clubs.
This being said, the FA has mooted that they are considering a collective social media ban and have backed the clubs taking action.
Can football clubs of Swansea’s size really make a significant impact and what is best course of action to realise the aim of the #EnoughisEnough campaign?
The Right Stuff
I think Swansea, Birmingham and Rangers’ stances are commendable and believe the only approach that will ensure the social media companies themselves start putting procedures in place to catch and prevent perpetrators of abuse. These clubs are sending the right message to the football world and their silence, in my opinion, speaks more words than any empty platitudes.
The #EnoughisEnough campaign led by Swansea is straightforward campaign that can gain momentum, particularly pertinent in its wording as it is a phrase that has been a common one uttered by figures in football throughout this endemic of racism towards footballers on social media.
At What Cost?
I sympathise with clubs, particular in lower divisions, who are relying more than ever on revenue generated by social media posts in the form of merchandise sales, etc. and it would be unrealistic to expect football clubs to stay off social media for an indefinite amount of time given the financial damage.
Caption: EFL clubs may be less inclined to give up commercial opportunities lent by social media
PR within football clubs are in a sticky spot in this regard, with replicating the admirable actions of Swansea City by boycotting social media, arguably overshadowed by the financial risks and alienation of supporters who currently use social platforms as their sole source of communication with their club.
Should we be looking at bigger clubs like Manchester United, Liverpool and the likes to take on the responsibility rather than that of clubs in the EFL?
In my opinion, yes.
Caption: Do the big clubs need to stand up in the fight to end abuse on social media
The millions upon millions of international followers these clubs bring to social media and the millions of pounds through paid partnerships, should soon have the big-wigs at major social platforms reeling at the loss of revenue and be quickly forced into action.
Oddly enough, a lack of social media activity in this way can demonstrate a CSR and especially given their diverse fan base and staff, this would be the right thing to do in so many ways.
The execs at Twitter, Facebook and the likes will certainly not like the negativity surrounding their brands following the action of Swansea, Birmingham and Rangers, but either the superpowers of the English game need to flex their muscles, or we need a collective effort, perhaps a blanket one from the FA, Premier League and EFL.
Not knowing the ins and outs of regulations, I suspect that football bodies probably can’t ban clubs from social media, but they can certainly influence their perspective members or at the very least host a meeting with club officials/PR staff in devising whether a mass football movement in the form of #EnoughisEnough could really enforce change.
Any blanket social media boycott by football or the big-money generators in the game, will sharp bring about drastic changes to help quash racist abuse on social media and punish those who engage in it.