Initiative encouraging football supporters to kick social media abuse out of football launched

Kick It Out, football’s equality and inclusion organisation, is calling on football supporters to #KlickItOut as the organisation launches a campaign to raise awareness of football-related social media discrimination and how to report such incidents. 

The ‘Klick It Out’ campaign is encouraging football supporters to kick social media abuse out of football and promote equality and inclusion.

Supporters can include the #KlickItOut hashtag when talking about the campaign and can also show their backing by sharing their ‘we need #KlickItOut’ message on social media.

Since 2014, Kick It Out has spoken about the issue of online discrimination. The challenge for Kick It Out was, and still is, that incidents occurring on social media do not fall under any football regulation, unless it can be proved that the individual involved is a participant under English football jurisdiction.

This means the organisation cannot use its normal route of reporting. Kick It Out realised that much of the abuse happening online was left unchallenged, and therefore took steps towards implementing a structure to deal with complaints.

During Euro 2016, Kick It Out, alongside Brandwatch, a world leading social intelligence and analytics company, will monitor social media discrimination aimed at selected players competing in the tournament, to further analyse the problem. 

This follows on from research published in April 2015, which highlighted the true extent of discrimination towards Premier League clubs and players.

Staff from The FA, the Premier League, the PFA and The Football League, alongside Kick It Out representatives, all form part of the social media expert group which was established in 2015. The group also features Twitter and Facebook, the Government and selected experts in their field to share best practices and plan to minimise discrimination on social media.

Roisin Wood, Kick It Out Director said: “We want this campaign to illustrate the level of discrimination that still occurs on social media that is a stain on football.

“At Kick It Out we don’t have the power to change laws but we hope our campaign shows how serious the problem is and the devastating impact it can have on people. This problem needs to be addressed now.”
The campaign was launched today (Thursday) at Portcullis House in Westminster, as Shadow Chancellor of the Exchequer, John McDonnell MP, hosted a panel discussion around football-related social media discrimination, featuring Clarke Carlisle, ex-footballer and former PFA Chair, Kevin Hylton, a Professor of Equality and Diversity in Sport, Leisure and Education at Leeds Beckett University and Anna Jӧnsson, Reporting Officer at Kick It Out.

A microsite can be viewed at klickitout.org, while a video has been produced to support the campaign and can be seen here.

Supporters of #KlickItOut emphasised the importance of the campaign.

Martin Glenn, Chief Executive Officer at The FA, said: “Discrimination on social media is now a live and active issue the game has to contend with. Whilst much work is done behind the scenes by the footballing and civil authorities, as well as the social networks themselves, campaigns like this are an effective way of raising the issue and highlighting the work which still needs to be done.”
Gordon Taylor, PFA Chief Executive added: “Nobody should have to tolerate any form of discrimination, either in person or online. It’s important to recognise that discrimination is taking place on these platforms and tighter restrictions are required. 

“The discrimination being levelled at PFA members on social media is appalling and we would like to see the same impact our anti-discrimination work has had in stadiums to take effect online."
Cathy Long, Head of Supporter Services at the Premier League said: “Discrimination isn’t tolerated in football and it should be the same online. Campaigns like Klick It Out are needed to keep on reminding people of those responsibilities on social media platforms and to urge users to report discrimination if they see it. 

“We need to educate people that they can’t say what they like online and to highlight the consequences discrimination can have on an individual.”

Football League Chief Executive, Shaun Harvey, commented: “Social media has added a new dimension to fan interaction that has been largely beneficial to the game. However, discriminatory abuse is no more acceptable on social media platforms than it is in the flesh and we fully support the Klick It Out campaign and would encourage supporters to play their part in challenging any behaviour that is unacceptable.”
Harry Fletcher, Criminal Justice Director at Digital Trust remarked: “There has been a massive increase in online hate crime over the last two years. The abuse is unacceptable. If it happened in real life the perpetrators would be arrested and charged.
“It is critical that the police take this abuse to footballers and others seriously and are trained in collecting the evidence.”