‘We’re not taking the abuse any more’

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April 30, 2021
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    I'm proud of players voicing their opinions on racism – Townsend

    Footballers "are not going to take this abuse any more", says Crystal Palace winger Andros Townsend.

    Several sporting organisations will take part in a social media boycott initially announced by football bodies.

    The boycott, which aims to tackle abuse and discrimination, runs from 15:00 BST on 30 April until 23:59 on 3 May.

    "We're starting to fight back," Townsend told BBC Sport. "I'm proud of the players. We're finally finding our voices and speaking up as a community."

    • Q&A: Sport prepares for social media boycott

    The 29-year-old England international said: "Hopefully it'll let the major media companies know that we're not going to take this abuse any more.

    "Do I think a three- or four-day blackout will make a difference? Probably not, but what it does do is send a warning to these companies that if you don't start regulating your platforms, it's going to be an indefinite blackout."

    Facebook, which owns Instagram, has said it is committed to tackling abuse on its platforms.

    Twitter released a lengthy statement in Februaryexternal-link, stating it is "resolute in our commitment to ensure the football conversation on our service is safe for fans, players and everyone involved in the game".

    • Man denies racially abusing West Brom's Sawyers

    Townsend's Palace team-mate Wilfried Zaha was the first Premier League player who chose to stop taking a knee. The initiative was adopted last year to support the Black Lives Matter movement, but Zaha feels more needs to be done to fight racism.

    When fans were briefly allowed to return to games last year, some Millwall supporters booed players taking a knee before their Championship game with Derby in December.

    Townsend, whose father Troy is the head of development for the anti-discrimination charity Kick It Out, said: "People are starting to fail to see the relevance of taking a knee – 'it's a flippant gesture, it doesn't mean anything, nothing's being done'.

    "But if fans do return next season and we hear booing, it would show the importance of taking a knee, wearing the badge, the campaigns. Hopefully it doesn't happen, but it could end up being a positive."

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