FA joins football bodies for discussion on tackling online hate

Monday 18 Jan 2021
The FA supported Kick It Out's Take A Stand campaign at England's game against the Republic of Ireland in November

We have joined a number of key football authorities and organisations in coming together to continue the fight against online hate. 

Convened by Kick It Out, a range of football, media and law enforcement organisations again met with social media companies to discuss how to tackle online hate in football, and agree further necessary action required against online discriminatory abuse. Those also included in the discussion were representatives from the PFA, Premier League, EFL, League Managers Association, UK Football Policing Unit, Women in Football, Crown Prosecution Service, Home Office and Sky, alongside Twitter and Facebook.

In addition, Anton Ferdinand provided a player’s perspective of the impact of online hate, in which he said: "As footballers we are held accountable for our actions all the time. Why aren’t the people that are sending abuse, and the social media platforms, held to account too?

"I had no escape from being racially abused, whether that was on the streets or social media. The ripple effect the abuse had on me and my family, I wouldn’t want anyone else to experience that."

The aim of the initial meeting, which will be a regular fixture moving forward, was to discuss how football and social media can be places where everyone feels they belong, and what action needs to be taken to make that happen. This meeting builds on previous discussions that have taken place between football authorities and social media companies and the existing work undertaken by the football bodies to report and remove offensive messages.

The group identified a set of common principles which will drive their working agenda moving forward. The principles include that: football and social media should be places where everyone feels that they belong; discrimination, hate and abuse towards those who play, support or work in the game is totally unacceptable and will not be tolerated; online and offline hate must have real-world consequences for perpetrators and individuals should be held accountable for their actions.

The group committed to working together transparently as a collective, to develop solutions. They will collaborate to share resources and ideas as swiftly as possible to combat discriminatory behaviour, and will use the power of their collective voices to campaign, challenge and educate individuals to make social media a safe and enjoyable space for all. They will also commit to meeting bi-monthly, working on tangible solutions, and will monitor and communicate progress to the public as this critical work progresses.

You can read more about the discussion here.

Edleen John, our director of international relations, corporate affairs and co-partner for equality, diversity and inclusion, said: "Football must be a game which embraces diversity and tackles discrimination and hateful conduct both on and off the pitch.

"It’s important that key football stakeholders work alongside social media, police and government to proactively eradicate online abuse. Each has a role to play in ensuring action is taken to prevent, identify and report incidents of online abuse.

"It’s vital that perpetrators are held accountable, sanctioned and face real-life consequences for their actions, as online abuse can have such a damaging and lasting impact.

"We are striving to create a safe environment for all, and discrimination has no part in the football landscape. We collectively acknowledge that it’s time for change."

The discussion was led by Sanjay Bhandari, executive chair at Kick It Out, who said: "Online hate thrives because there is a culture of impunity – people feel free to say what they want because they are confident there will be no consequences. That must change.

"Online hate must have real-world consequences. We will only change that culture by working as a team and we will now meet on a regular basis as a working group to drive change. I welcome the commitment of football and social media to turn words of intent into meaningful action."

Earlier this season, we pledged our support as Kick It Out launched their Take A Stand campaign, which encourages people across the football community to take action or make a pledge, in the fight against discrimination.

For those who would like to make a pledge, either individually or as an organisation, please contact info@kickitout.org. You can also make a pledge by joining the conversation on social media – just use #TakeAStand and tag @KickItOut in your posts. If you see, hear or receive abuse, report it at kickitout.org.

By FA Staff