Lionel Messi has backed the social media boycott currently underway in British sport.
The Barcelona legend posted on his Instagram account – followed by more than 200 million people – to pledge his support for the four-day initiative, which aims to tackle abuse and discrimination online.
Messi asked his followers to give importance to the people behind each profile and demanded that Facebook, Twitter and other social media companies do more.
“I would like you, the 200 million people who follow me, to become the 200 million reasons that exist to make networks a safe and respectful place, where we can share what we want without fear of being insulted”, said he wrote.
“And may insults, racism, abuse and discrimination stay out of them forever. For you who are part of these networks and who are always with me, I hope you will accompany me and support me in this crusade. “
He added: “A big hug to all of you and congratulations to all the footballers in the UK for their idea of starting the campaign against abuse and discrimination in networks.”
The FA, Premier League, EFL, FA Women’s Super League, FA Women’s Championship, PFA, LMA, PGMOL, Kick It Out and FSA unite in boycott from Friday to Monday.
The Scottish FA, Scottish Professional Football League, Scottish Women’s Football and PFA Scotland have also confirmed the participation of football clubs and organizations in Scotland.
UEFA also lent its support on Thursday, urging players, clubs and national associations “to lodge formal complaints whenever players, coaches, referees or officials are victims of unacceptable tweets or messages”.
FIFA has also said it supports England’s football boycott of social media in response to discriminatory and offensive social media abuse.
Sky Sports will not post any sports content to its channels on Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, YouTube, Snapchat and Tik Tok during the boycott period.
Key organizations from other UK sports – such as England and Wales Cricket Board, England Rugby, Premiership Rugby, Scottish Rugby, Professional Darts Corporation, British Cycling, Lawn Tennis Association and British Horseracing Authority – have chosen to join, as have other broadcasters including BT Sport, At The Races and talkSPORT.
The British Basketball League and the Women’s British Basketball League will also support the boycott with key organizations in the rugby league, including the Rugby Football League, the European Super League, the Rugby League World Cup 2021 and the Rugby League Players’ Association.
Messi’s statement in its entirety
“I have reached 200 million followers on Instagram, however, because of what is happening today, I am not going to take it as a reason to celebrate.
“Of course, I appreciate all the love and support I always receive from you, but I think the time has come to give importance to all the PEOPLE behind each profile, that we realize that behind every account there is a person, who laughs, cries, enjoys and suffers, human beings with feelings.
“Let’s speak out to end social media abuse. It doesn’t matter whether we are anonymous, famous, athletes, referees, or followers of a game, even someone outside of it all, regardless of race, religion, ideology or gender. … No one deserves to be abused or insulted.
“We live together seeing and enduring abuse, increasingly serious in each of the networks, without anyone doing anything to prevent it. We must strongly condemn these hostile attitudes and demand that the companies that operate the networks take urgent action against such behavior.
“I would like you, the 200 million people who follow me, to become the 200 million reasons that exist to make networks a safe and respectful place, where we can share what we want without fear of being insulted. And that insults, racism, abuse and discrimination remain with them forever.
“For you who are part of these networks and who are always with me, I hope that you will accompany me and support me in this crusade.
“A big hug everyone and congratulations to all the footballers in the UK for their idea of starting the campaign against abuse and discrimination in networks.”
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