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EPL clubs plan social media boycott

The English Premier League is planning a social media blackout next month in a move it says is in response to continued online abuse of players.

According to reports in the English media, the proposal will be effected between May 1-3.

It is expected all the clubs in the competition, including the likes of Arsenal and Manchester United, will boycott online media for 24 hours around their games, while the league will go silent for all three days.

It comes amid an increase in incidents of players receiving racist abuse.

Premier League clubs have been asked to confirm their support for the blackout by 14:00 GMT on Monday.

Championship sides Birmingham City and Swansea and Scottish champions Rangers recently held week-long boycotts.

Anti-discrimination charity Kick It Out has said it would back a Premier League-wide boycott and some Premier League managers have backed the idea.

Facebook, which owns Instagram, responded to recent calls for a boycott by saying that it was committed to tackling abuse on its platforms.

This week, Aston Villa and England defender Tyrone Mings revealed the received racist abuse he had received on social media.

Tottenham said they would hold a review after South Korean forward Son Heung-min was racially abused on social media following last Sunday’s 3-1 Premier League home defeat by Manchester United.

Liverpool captain Jordan Henderson has given control of his Twitter account to Cybersmile – which provides support for victims of cyberbullying and online hate campaigns – to raise awareness of the impact of abuse.

That came after Liverpool players Trent Alexander-Arnold, Naby Keita and Sadio Mane were sent racist comments and emojis on Instagram after their Champions League quarter-final first-leg defeat by Real Madrid.

At the end of March, former Arsenal and France striker Thierry Henry said he was removing himself from social media because of racism and bullying across platforms.

Manchester United have set up an online reporting system to encourage fans to flag up online abuse – after widespread abuse of players from both their men’s and women’s teams.

Two years ago, a number of footballers took part in the #Enough campaign – a 24-hour social media boycott in protest at a similar spate of abuse.

The UK Government has threatened social media companies with “large fines” if they fail to tackle abuse on their platforms.

Fadzai Madzingira, Facebook’s UK head of content policy, told BBC Sport in February it was introducing tougher measures, which included disabling accounts of those found to have repeatedly sent abusive private messages on Instagram.

However, it says asking users to provide verification documents would prove challenging in communities where such documents would not be readily available.

Some of football’s governing bodies laid out the changes they would like to see in a letter to Facebook and Twitter in February.