In response to discussions on dealing with racist abuse aimed at footballers on social media, Liverpool FC have launched a “Stop the Hate, Stand Up, Report It” campaign which urges social media users to report abuse they see online.
Rather than simply reporting abuse to social media platforms themselves, there is now a reporting system in place that can report abuse directly to the club. By reporting abuse at liverpoolfc.com/reportabuse fans can alert the club to abhorrent behavior by Liverpool fans and rival fans. This reporting system is in place for online abuse at present, but will be expanded to in-person instances of abuse once fans return to stadiums.
By creating a streamlined location to report abuse the club can make sure such abuse is investigated and “escalated to the relevant authorities.”
This campaign aims to work alongside efforts put forth by the Premier League, the FA, and other organizations, while the club and other organizations involved in the social media boycott call upon social media companies to do more to combat abuse on their platforms.
In introducing the campaign, Liverpool FC CEO Billy Hogan drew upon the importance of diversity for the club.
“Liverpool Football Club has such a rich heritage, and it is thanks to the diverse range of talented players that have played for the club over the years that has enabled us to achieve great success. We have been lucky as a club to see some of the greatest players from all corners of the globe, different nationalities, ethnicities and cultures don a Liverpool shirt.
“Despite this, sadly, our players and indeed footballers across the world continue to be on the receiving end of appalling abuse, which not only affects them personally but everyone around them.
“This is not just about football; it is not acceptable that anyone in society is targeted in this cowardly way and it must stop. We know our fans are passionate about an inclusive club and one which welcomes everyone and therefore we are asking them to come together to stamp out discrimination.
“We all need to lead the change together by calling out abuse when we encounter it and take action by reporting it. This, along with greater consequences for those responsible for the abuse, will help to fight for zero tolerance.”
In this statement Hogan references something that we all know: racism and racist abuse does not exist on social media platforms in isolation; instead, the conversation on abuse on social media is reflective of how racism is pervasive in society more broadly.
Hogan acknowledges the breadth of the issue in his concluding remarks on both the social media campaign and the parallel boycott of social media platforms by the club, players, and sponsors:
“We know boycotting these platforms alone will not eradicate this behavior, but it is one way of showing that we are willing to take action and proactive steps to fight discrimination in all its forms. Whilst also putting pressure on social media companies to do more to combat online abuse and hold to account the individuals who are responsible for it.”
While it’s unclear what impact the boycott will have on social media companies’ policies around abuse of individuals, both it and the campaign suggest an openness to centering how both men and women’s players have been victims of racist abuse.
Hopefully these actions have an impact, and these conversations can continue beyond the end of the social media blackout, and this is seen as just a starting point.