Match of the Day commentators have opted to join the pundit boycott after Gary Lineker announced his decision to step down from his role as host.
The pundits are protesting against online abuse, specifically against players and pundits from ethnic minorities. The boycott, initially called for by the Women’s Super League and Men’s Championship on Friday, was soon joined by other leagues and broadcasters, including BBC and Sky Sports.
The Match of the Day commentators, including Alan Shearer and Ian Wright, expressed their solidarity with the boycott and pledged not to appear on any programmes that involve live social media until the companies take appropriate action.
The boycott comes after a spate of incidents where players and pundits faced racial abuse on social media platforms. On Wednesday, Thierry Henry announced that he was quitting social media in protest against the companies’ lack of action to curb online racism.
Henry said that the platforms had enabled a ‘toxic discourse’ against players and pundits, particularly from ethnic minorities. The former Arsenal striker called on the companies to take more responsibility for the content on their platforms.
The boycott is a significant step in the ongoing battle against online hate, and the commentators’ participation highlights the football industry’s determination to tackle the problem head-on.
In a statement released on Saturday, the Match of the Day pundits expressed their support for the boycott, saying, “We stand with our colleagues in the football community and share their anger and frustration at the continuing racism and discrimination that players and pundits suffer on social media.
“We are united in our belief that social media companies must take stronger action to eradicate the abuse and hate that plagues their platforms.”
“We stand together with all those who have suffered abuse and discrimination and pledge to do whatever we can to support them and work towards a fairer, more inclusive football community.”
The boycott has been welcomed by anti-racism campaigners and fans alike, who have expressed their outrage at the constant stream of abuse faced by ethnic minority players and pundits.
The campaigners have also called on the social media companies to take stronger action against online hate and to take responsibility for the content on their platforms.
Several football clubs and players have also voiced their support for the boycott, including Liverpool’s Trent Alexander-Arnold, who tweeted, “This can’t go on. Social media companies need to do more to protect their users and to stamp out hate and abuse.”
The boycott is an important step towards eradicating online hate, and the commentators’ decision to join highlights the need for everyone, including those in the football industry, to take responsibility for tackling the problem.
Lineker, who has been the host of Match of the Day for twenty-two years, announced last week that he would be stepping down from his role at the end of the season.
The former England striker said that he wanted to focus on other projects, including his work with BT Sport and the launch of a new podcast.
Lineker has been a vocal advocate for anti-racism initiatives in football and has supported several campaigns against discrimination and hate. His departure from Match of the Day will be a significant loss to the show, but his legacy as a champion for equality and fairness will continue.
Football fans and anti-racism campaigners will continue to hold social media companies responsible for their role in enabling online hate, and the boycott is a powerful reminder that the football community will not accept abuse and discrimination in any form.
The football industry has a unique opportunity to create a fairer, more inclusive community that values and celebrates diversity, and the boycott is a vital step towards making that a reality.