At the start of 2021, a range of football, media and law enforcement organisations again met with social media companies to discuss how to tackle online hate in football. Those included in the discussion were representatives from Kick It Out, PFA, Premier League, The FA, EFL, League Managers Association, UK Football Policing Unit, Women in Football, Crown Prosecution Service, Home Office and Sky, alongside Twitter and Facebook. The meeting was convened by Kick It Out and it was agreed that further necessary action is required against online discriminatory abuse.
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.”
Brentford FC has a close relationship with Kick It Out, The FA and other organisations that, like us, believe in increasing the diversity and inclusivity of football and the removal of hatred from the game. We will do all we can to work with them to rid football of discriminatory behaviour. Brentford FC hopes that these meetings will be the next step towards making it easier to identify perpetrators of online abuse and with the assistance of social media platforms this sort of behaviour will end.
Brentford FC has a zero-tolerance policy towards discriminatory behaviour of any kind. We have been appalled to see recent reports of hateful behaviour on social media platforms, including against current and former players. If anyone known to us is involved, we reserve the right to take the most extreme action, including but not limited to what is set out in our Social Media Policy for fans, to ensure our community is free of discrimination and intimidation. If you spot any racism or other forms of discriminatory or hateful behaviour online you can email us at [email protected] and we will act.
This meeting follows Kick It Out launching their Take A Stand campaign earlier this season, which is encouraging 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 [email protected]. You can also make a pledge by joining the conversation on social media, just use #TakeAStand and tag Kick It Out in your posts. And if you see, hear or receive abuse, you can also report it at kickitout.org.
As part of the #TakeAStand campaign, Brentford FC pledged during our Black History Month webinar that a new social media policy would be introduced. This guide for fans on social media is now live and can be viewed here. The full story of the launch of the guide can be seen here.
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.
Brentford FC welcomes this ongoing discussion and pledges our support to try and rid online platforms of racism and discriminatory behaviour. We are pleased that representatives from Facebook and Twitter have supported the Kick It Out release and hope there will be real change in the future. The full release from Kick It Out can be seen at kickitout.org/news/football-comes-together-to-tackle-online-hate.