Steve Cooper hopes Premier League clubs follow Swansea in boycott of social media

The Sky Bet Championship club have declared “enough is enough” after three of its players were targeted on social media.

Swansea head coach Steve Cooper
Swansea head coach Steve Cooper

Steve Cooper hopes Premier League clubs will follow Swansea’s example and boycott social media in the fight against online abuse and discrimination.

Swansea have decided not to post any social media content for seven days from 5pm on Thursday, with the Sky Bet Championship club declaring “enough is enough” after months of players being targeted online.

Three Swansea players – Yan Dhanda, Ben Cabango and Jamal Lowe – have been among that number and the club’s chief executive Julian Winter has written to Twitter and Facebook urging the introduction of tougher policing and punishments for those found guilty of sending online abuse.

Swansea head coach Cooper said: “It’s been a powerful decision and hopefully it’s gained a lot of traction. Even if it helps a small bit then that’ll be a good thing.

“First and foremost we want to show the support internally. We want to join the bigger fight against discrimination in general.

“If this gets people thinking about what else can be done, then good.

“It would be great (if others joined Swansea), but it’s a club prerogative with how they deal with forms of discrimination.

“But for us, it’s real. Unfortunately some of our players have been on the wrong end of abuse, and we’re not standing for any of it.”

Swansea have over one million followers on Twitter and a social media reach of three and a half million on their various social media platforms.

The social media boycott will cover Swansea’s Sky Bet Championship games against Millwall and Sheffield Wednesday, although club news will continue to be posted on the official website during this period.

Swansea issued a statement on Thursday outlining their position and say they have the support of their sponsors and partners, as well as the English Football League over the stance they have taken.

Cardiff City v Swansea City – Sky Bet Championship – Cardiff City Stadium
Striker Jamal Lowe is one of three Swansea players to be racially abused online in recent weeks (Nick Potts/PA)

Lowe became the latest Swansea player to be targeted after the Good Friday defeat at Birmingham, and Cooper said the issue really hit home when he spoke to the Jamaica striker after the game.

“Jamal’s fine. He’s a fantastic person, a very good professional and a father himself,” Cooper said.

“The most important thing is raising awareness of what’s happened, but the saddest part was when I sat with Jamal on the team bus.

“He said: ‘It happens now, doesn’t it?’ I can’t stand in his shoes but for Jamal to think that it’s normal, for me, was the most disheartening bit.

“That’s what people don’t see. The most important thing is the welfare of the guys who receive the abuse, but then it’s the aftermath of how their families and team-mates react.”

Swansea’s social media boycott is planned to be for seven days, but Cooper did not rule out the club coming off some platforms completely if social media companies do not address the issue to their satisfaction.

Asked about the possibility of a permanent boycott, Cooper said: “Yes, is the answer to that. What we do here is have open discussions with everybody – players, senior management and staff.

“This stance has been a collective from top to bottom of the football club, and if we need to do something further than we’ll definitely have those discussions.”

Swansea’s Championship rivals Birmingham joined them on Thursday evening, with the Blues saying they would not be posting across official channels for seven days, while players and management at Scottish Premiership champions Rangers also launched a week-long boycott of social media channels to highlight concerns over a “lack of accountability and responsibility” from outlets.

The PFA later released a statement saying it backed the move by all three clubs.

“Today Swansea City, Birmingham City and Glasgow Rangers have announced that players and staff are boycotting social media for seven days to protest the vile racial abuse prevalent on social networking platforms,” read the statement.

“We know that racist abuse can impact wellbeing – both of the person affected and those who have to witness it. We applaud Swansea, Rangers, Birmingham and any other clubs that decide to take this action to publicly support their players. Solidarity matters.”

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