Celtic officially join social media boycott in stand against racism

By Euan Davidson

April 28, 2021

It was rumoured earlier today, but now it’s official: Celtic will join a league-wide social boycott this weekend.

In the latest stand against racism from footballing authorities, all 42 of the SPFL clubs were asked to maintain a social media silence over the weekend. Given that Celtic have a match against Rangers on Sunday, it’s an even more meaningful gesture.

The toxic environment on social media was already abhorrent. However, the effects of lockdown and social isolation, as well as significant civil rights movements worldwide, have brought out the worst in a significant number of social media users.

A study in the Journal of the European Economic Association from October linked social media activity to real-life violence [EurekAlert]. In the journal’s synopsis, the writers concluded:

“The researchers established that spikes in posts about refugees on social media are tightly linked to anti-refugee hate crimes.”

A statement from Celtic FC read:

“As a Club who has welcomed all since 1888, we are pleased to support this collective campaign.

“Sadly, through various social media platforms Celtic players, staff and supporters for some time have been subjected to racial and sectarian attacks and horrendous personal abuse – this is something which simply has to stop.

“Abusing someone because of the colour of their skin, abusing an individual due to their religion, unacceptable personal attacks or pathetically mocking the death of a loved one – our players, staff and supporters have, tragically, experienced it all through social media.

“We must all make a stand and together defeat this negative, damaging behaviour which inflicts so much harm.

“Social media can be an important, powerful tool. Let’s use it properly.”

Celtic: A club open to all / (Photo by Mark Runnacles/Getty Images)

Celtic send a message on hate

This is, undoubtedly, a good thing to see from the club. Undoubtedly, Celtic players, staff and supporters have been victims of online abuse. In particular this season, Shane Duffy has been subjected to vile tirades, with Instagram taking “no action”.

Across Facebook, Twitter and Instagram, it’s not just bigots hiding behind anonymous accounts. Societal changes, the significance of Black Lives Matter and other political events have magnified the fringe views of racists, homophobes and bigots of all kinds. Bigotry and discrimination have become open-air spectator sports; just read the comments under nearly any major news article.

It’s been monumentally depressing. And this message from Celtic is a strong one. There could’ve been a temptation, with the possibility of a new manager, and a Glasgow Derby, to delay this move. But there are bigger issues than football at play here, and if this stops torrents of discriminatory language then it’s a job well done by the SPFL.

Credit to Celtic and the 41 other SPFL clubs who agree to do this. It will take countless more hours of forcing change but it’s a step in the right direction.

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