By Charles Harrison
Three Premier League football players have made an educational video calling for tighter regulations on social media to combat racism.
Crystal Palace FC defenders Joel Ward, 31, and Tyrick Mitchell, 21, with Palace Women midfielder Leigh Nicol, 25, have expressed the importance of being an ally in an emotional video.
The video is part of Crystal Palace’s contribution to the Premier League’s No Room For Racism campaign, which today launched a social media boycott in response to the abuse of players.
“People are cheering for players every week, and then abusing others at the weekend,” said Ward.
“The powers-that-be need to educate people who in the street wouldn’t say ‘boo’ to a goose.
“You have to bring in regulation and actually have some punishment to stop keyboard warriors from targeting people that don’t deserve it.”
Clubs in the Premier League, English Football League, Women’s Super League, and Women’s Championship, and governing bodies like Kick It Out have joined in the boycott of Facebook, Twitter and Instagram.
It will last until May 3, covering a full fixture programme in both men’s and women’s professional football.
The Premier League will include Crystal Palace’s video as part of free education resources for over 18,000 primary schools, available on their website.
More content from players is to be released next week.
Nicol shared a story of how her teammate was affected by online abuse.
“I was disgusted,” she said.
“She experienced it in day-to-day life, and the knock-on effect on her and her team was quite dramatic.
“As a teammate, your heart breaks, and my black friends are now growing a thick skin to it and expecting it.”
Mitchell added, “If someone abused your mum, your dad, your family or the close people around you, how would you take it and how would they feel?
“I should never have that feeling of ‘it’s going to happen to me.’
“But that’s kind of how it is.”
Liverpool players Trent Alexander-Arnold, Naby Keïta and Sadio Mané all became subjects of racist abuse after their defeat to Read Madrid earlier this month.
More recently, Aston Villa defender Tyrone Mings shared a screenshot on Twitter of a racist message he had received on Instagram.
Following the online abuse of its players, Swansea City announced a club-wide social media boycott for seven days at the start of April, and were joined by Birmingham City and Rangers.
The No Room For Racism campaign is encouraging players and fans to stand up for each other.
“Previously I’ve been naive and I didn’t know this existed,” admitted Nicol.
“But we can stand up for our teammates or friends or strangers, because something needs to be done, but it won’t be unless it’s done collectively.
“On behalf of the women’s football community and Crystal Palace Women, we’re behind you.”
Crystal Palace play Man City tomorrow at 12:30pm, while Crystal Palace Women play Lewes this Sunday at 2pm.
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