Scotland's Rangers want ‘action’ after joining social media boycott

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Scotland's Rangers Want ‘Action’ After Joining Social Media Boycott
Rangers have joined Birmingham and Swansea in a week-long boycott of social media channels, © PA Wire/PA Images
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Phil Blanche, PA

Rangers want “clear and direct action” from social media companies after joining Birmingham and Swansea in a week-long boycott of all platforms to combat abuse and discrimination.

Swansea took a stance over online abuse on Thursday after three of their players were targeted, declaring “enough is enough” as head coach Steve Cooper said he hoped other clubs would follow their example.

Birmingham and Rangers quickly did so, with the newly-crowned Scottish champions starting their week-long boycott of all social media channels at 7pm on Thursday night.

Rangers midfielder Glen Kamara has described facing a barrage of racist abuse on social media since his clash with Slavia Plague defender Ondrej Kudela during last month’s Europa League tie.

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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.”

Rangers managing director Stewart Robertson said: “We can confirm that as a board and as a club, we are fully behind our players and management on this issue.

“Furthermore, we have arranged to meet Facebook and Instagram to underline our growing concerns.

“Having spoken to a wide range of clubs across the United Kingdom, we know these concerns are shared by all clubs and it is fair to say everyone is losing patience with the lack of action from social media companies.

Rangers midfielder Glen Kamara (left) has described facing a barrage of racist abuse since last month’s Europa League tie against Slavia Prague (Andrew Milligan/PA)

“Rangers’ hope is that clear and direct action is taken from social media platforms. The basic verification of users, as part of the sign-up process, to any social media platform, will ensure that users are both identifiable and accountable for their actions and words. We will raise this next week in our scheduled meetings.

“Rangers has driven its flagship Everyone Anyone campaign forward rigorously, drawing praise and support from fellow clubs, governing bodies and politicians, and we will continue to stand firmly against all forms of discrimination. Enough is enough.

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“We would hope that social media companies recognise the benefit of verified accounts.

“If they don’t, it is time for government to step in and legislate. As a club, we will continue to consider all options which increase pressure on social media platforms until they begin working proactively in the interests of wider society.”

Liverpool this week called for “the strongest possible preventative measures” to be taken over racist abuse on social media after Trent Alexander-Arnold, Naby Keita and Sadio Mane became the latest players to be targeted.

Championship outfit Swansea, a Premier League club until 2018, have over one million followers on Twitter and a social media reach of three-and-a-half million on their various platforms.

Cooper did not rule out the club coming off some platforms completely if social media companies do not address the issue to their satisfaction.

Asked about the possibility of a permanent boycott, Cooper said: “Yes, is the answer to that. This stance has been a collective from top to bottom of the football club, and if we need to do something further then we’ll definitely have those discussions.”

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Birmingham became the second EFL club to impose a week-long social media boycott, saying the issue must be tackled together.

A Birmingham statement read: “Regardless of who such abhorrent abuse on social media is directed towards, Blues do not believe this should determine who speaks out against it and that making this stance together is paramount to ridding the game and society of this evil.

“We know how players and staff at the football club use social media in both personal and professional capacities, therefore, are acutely aware of how these platforms are further becoming a hotbed for abusive, offensive and discriminatory content.

“We understand how social media can be used as a force for good, but at present do not recognise this trait in such arenas and believe firmly that those responsible for these platforms are not doing enough to stamp out the unacceptable abuse and discrimination that they are housing.

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“By removing our content from these platforms, we intend to starve the perpetrators of such abusive and discriminatory behaviour of a space in which they can carry out offences that are not only criminal but deeply harmful to the well-being of groups and individuals.”

Former England manager Sam Allardyce insists the problem of online abuse can only be tackled by football showing unity.

The West Brom boss said: “I would like an accumulation of football clubs across the board to all do it together.

“That would for me be the only way that a difference may be made, if a united front was put up by all 92 professional clubs.”

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