Manchester United have published statistics highlighting the appalling nature and growing scale of the online abuse directed at their players. The Premier League club joins the rest of English football for a social media boycott from today (Friday) lasting from 3pm to 11:59pm on Monday, May 3.
United will be joined by football, cricket, rugby and other sports in switching off social media accounts in order to send a message that online abuse will not be tolerated.
To highlight how big a problem this has become United have offered a detailed breakdown of online activity from September 2019 to February of this year.
The study checked for abusive words being used against players’ names or account handles and covered racist, homophobic and abusive comments.
United’s analysis found that since September 2019 there has been a 350 per cent increase in abuse directed towards the club’s players.
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“The review found that 86 per cent of these posts were racist, while 8 per cent were homophobic or transphobic,” United said.
“The vast majority of racist posts contained either the N word (and variants on the spelling) or emojis used with racist intent (monkey, chimp, banana, gorilla).”
Richard Arnold, Group Managing Director, said: “We have been actively campaigning against discrimination for some time through our All Red All Equal initiative.
“The level of support we have received for this work from our fans has been hugely encouraging but these figures show that despite that, the level of abuse our players and fans receive is on the up.
“It must be said that while these numbers are shocking, they do only represent a 0.01% of conversations that take place on social media about the club and the players.
“By taking part in this boycott this weekend, we, alongside the rest of English football, want to shine a light on the issue.
“It will generate debate and discussion and will raise awareness of the levels of abuse our players and our fans receive.”
United are not absolving their own fans of blame and have instigated club sanction proceedings against six individuals alleged to have breached club rules by abusing Tottenham’s Son Heung-Min on social media following their match against Spurs on 11 April.
Regretfully, suspensions have been issued, subject to appeal, to three season ticket holders, two official members and one individual on the season ticket waiting list.