We can confirm that Horsham Football Club will be joining hundreds of clubs across the country in a social media boycott from 3pm this Friday until 11.59pm on Monday May 3.

Horsham FC is a community club which welcomes players, officials and supporters of all ethnicities, religions, gender identities and sexualities through its doors on a weekly basis and our family club ethos is central to how we operate.

Every weekend, we are disgusted to read countless reports of footballers receiving hateful and abusive messages which include, but are not limited to, discrimination against the colour of their skin. These messages are often directed to them by faceless trolls who hide unaccountable behind a screen. This has to stop.

As a club, we are committed to providing a warm, friendly environment which everyone in the local community and beyond can enjoy, and it is for that reason why we are choosing to stand in solidarity this weekend.

A joint-statement released yesterday from various governing bodies said: “The FA, Premier League, EFL, FA Women’s Super League, FA Women’s Championship, PFA, LMA, PGMOL, Kick It Out and the FSA will unite for a social media boycott from 15.00 on Friday 30 April to 23.59 on Monday 3 May, in response to the ongoing and sustained discriminatory abuse received online by players and many others connected to football.

“This has been scheduled to take place across a full fixture programme in the men’s and women’s professional game and will see clubs across the Premier League, EFL, WSL and Women’s Championship switch off their Facebook, Twitter and Instagram accounts.

“As a collective, the game recognises the considerable reach and value of social media to our sport. The connectivity and access to supporters who are at the heart of football remains vital.

“However, the boycott shows English football coming together to emphasise that social media companies must do more to eradicate online hate, while highlighting the importance of educating people in the ongoing fight against discrimination.”

It continued: “In our letter of February 2021, English football outlined its requests of social media companies, urging filtering, blocking and swift takedowns of offensive posts, an improved verification process and re-registration prevention, plus active assistance for law enforcement agencies to identify and prosecute originators of illegal content.

“While some progress has been made, we reiterate those requests today in an effort to stem the relentless flow of discriminatory messages and ensure that there are real-life consequences for purveyors of online abuse across all platforms.

“Boycott action from football in isolation will, of course, not eradicate the scourge of online discriminatory abuse, but it will demonstrate that the game is willing to take voluntary and proactive steps in this continued fight.

“We have recently seen how powerful it can be when everybody is united for the good of the English game. We are calling on organisations and individuals across the game to join us in a temporary boycott of these social media platforms, to show solidarity and unite in the message that English football will not tolerate discrimination in any form.”

Premier League Chief Executive Richard Masters said: “Racist behaviour of any form is unacceptable and the appalling abuse we are seeing players receive on social media platforms cannot be allowed to continue.

“The Premier League and our clubs stand alongside football in staging this boycott to highlight the urgent need for social media companies to do more in eliminating racial hatred.

“We will not stop challenging social media companies and want to see significant improvements in their policies and processes to tackle online discriminatory abuse on their platforms.

“Football is a diverse sport, which brings together communities and cultures from all backgrounds and this diversity makes the competition stronger. No Room For Racism represents all the work we do to promote equality, diversity and inclusion and tackling discrimination.”

Social media is a great tool in helping non-league clubs like ours thrive, providing invaluable engagement between us and supporters particularly over the last 12 months when we’ve been apart longer than we’ve been together.

However, we firmly believe this engagement is worth sacrificing for a weekend if it means social media companies will stand up and take notice by this collective effort across English football.

Our message is clear and simple: social media companies must do more to stop online racial abuse.

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