West Ham United against discrimination and online abuse - Why we are joining the boycott

This weekend, West Ham United will not post via our Club’s official social media channels in response to the ongoing and sustained abhorrent racist and discriminatory abuse received online by players, fans and many others connected to football and beyond.

It is completely unacceptable. The situation must change.  

At West Ham United, we are striving to become an equity leader and we are devoted to forging a better future, by continuously challenging ourselves and ensuring we are doing everything we possibly can to enhance and honour our Club’s heritage of unity and inclusivity which runs throughout the West Ham United family.

In combatting online abuse specifically, we have set up processes to filter, block and take down offensive posts and report individuals to the social platforms and relevant authorities, but we believe social media companies must do more to protect everyone from hurtful and damaging comments by eradicating online hate.

The Club will stand in solidarity with its fellow Premier League clubs, The FA, EFL, FA Women’s Super League, FA Women’s Championship, PFA, LMA, PGMOL, Kick It Out, Women in Football and the FSA in the boycott – and we encourage our supporters to do the same.

We will not post on our Facebook, Instagram, Twitter channels, as well as our Snapchat, TikTok, LinkedIn, YouTube and foreign-language social media accounts, and will not send any emails or SMS messages between 3pm on Friday 30 April and 11.59pm on Monday 3 May.

Fans who usually follow matches via our social media channels can find live matchday coverage of our Premier League fixture with Burnley, FA Women’s Super League match at Aston Villa and Premier League 2 Division 1 meeting with Arsenal, plus the latest news updates, on our official website and App.

At West Ham United, we believe the boycott will draw attention to the importance of these companies acting on this problem, and it will help to educate people in the ongoing fight against racism, and all forms of discrimination.

We acknowledge that a social media boycott alone will not eradicate it – it is saddening that we are even having to take those steps. But our stance this weekend does demonstrate the serious and continued determined approach we take regarding the issue. It is also in line with the Club’s wider EDI strategy and our work to combat discriminatory abuse, not just online but in the wider community.

To help you understand further why we are joining this boycott, below is further information on our approach, and details of some of our initiatives to fight discrimination:

West Ham United was awarded the Premier League’s Equality Standard Advanced level, recognising the Club’s ongoing dedication and commitment to equality, diversity and inclusion (EDI), in March 2021.

Following a rigorous and in-depth assessment by an independent panel, focusing on evidence of equality, diversity and inclusion across all areas of the Club and its charitable Foundation, the Premier League concluded that the Hammers had made fantastic progress since earning the Intermediate level of the award back in 2018, taking into account the culture, policies, leadership and people, along with the work done to encourage people from all communities to participate in Club activities.

The Club supports and nurtures our employees through an ongoing education and development programme which is designed to provide them with essential skills in areas such as inclusive language and ways of working.

The West Ham United Foundation, supported by Show Racism the Red Card and funded by the Shared Endeavour Fund, delivers the Stop the Hate project to educate and empower young people around the issues of racism, discrimination, extremism and hate crime.

Stop the Hate has engaged thousands of young people at schools and youth centres across east London and beyond through free interactive social media workshops and health and wellbeing sessions since it was introduced in September 2019.

West Ham United continues to fully support the Premier League’s No Room For Racism campaign, which was launched in March 2019 as a commitment to promoting and improving equality and diversity, celebrate the diversity of the Premier League and make it clear that racism is not acceptable in our competition or the wider sport.

No Room For Racism encourages players, staff and supporters to challenge and report racism wherever it takes place, encouraging behavioural change in football and wider society with the message ‘Challenge it, Report it, Change it’.

As part of the initiative, a central reporting system has been created by the Premier League for players, managers and their family members who receive serious discriminatory abuse online to report it, an Action Plan has been launched to create greater opportunities for Black, Asian and others from ethnic diversity network backgrounds in football and educational resources have been made available to more than 18,000 primary schools.

The Club also works closely with Kick It Out, the organisation that works within the football, educational and community sectors to challenge discrimination, encourage inclusive practices and work for positive change.

In addition to public support for Kick It Out, including the holding of regular awareness events, we also encourage supporters to report any racism or discrimination they witness to Kick It Out via their App, via email on [email protected], via their online reporting form on their website kickitout.org, or via freephone on 0800 169 9414.

We also work with Stonewall, which campaigns for the equality of lesbian, gay, bi, trans and questioning (LGBTQ+) people and our players and staff support the annual Rainbow Laces campaign.

In addition, the Club works closely with the Pride of Irons supporters’ group to make London Stadium a welcoming and comfortable environment for its many LGBTQ+ fans.

The Club has a zero-tolerance policy towards foul language, racist chanting, homophobic chanting or any anti-social behaviour at London Stadium and any other venue we are playing at and will act swiftly and decisively to ensure action is taken.

Any individual found to be behaving in a discriminatory manner on our social media platforms is also subject to the Club’s offences and sanctions policy, which includes issuing bans, suspensions and, where appropriate, educational sessions working alongside Kick It Out and our supporters’ groups Pride of Irons and BAME Hammers.

To report an accident or a concern on matchday please notify the nearest steward, Supporter Liaison Officer or report it directly to our control room by using our anti-social texting number. To report an incident via SMS please send it to 07860 404069.

West Ham United is committed to ensuring all fans feel comfortable when supporting the Club.

We work closely with supporters’ groups representing ethnic diversity network backgrounds, LGBTQ+ fans, supporters with accessibility and other health issues and junior supporters to make their experience as enjoyable as possible.

As part of our commitment to embrace diversity, the Club has a Staff Equality Forum that includes 14 employees of all ages, 65% of whom are from ethnic diversity network backgrounds, which is helping to ensure that equality is embedded at every level of the organisation, feeding directly into the Board and supporting in our aim to become an equity leader in the Premier League.

Support is available to our players and staff should they receive any type of online abuse. Professional staff are available, at all times, to discuss any matters and assist them with reporting individuals as part of our Club-wide approach to tackling discrimination.

In 2019, the Club also launched an Employee Assistance Programme – a confidential service which is intended to help employees deal with personal problems that might adversely impact their work performance, health and wellbeing. The programme generally includes assessment, short-term counselling and referral services for both staff and their immediate family.  

The Club also has ten members of staff who have successfully completed a nationally recognised qualification as Mental Health First Aiders. These employees offer initial relief by being a listening ear and signposting to specialise and relevant services for needed ongoing and longer-term support.

We acknowledge that, in isolation, a social media boycott will not eradicate the scourge of online abuse, but it does demonstrate the seriousness with which the game takes this ongoing issue and that it is willing to take proactive steps in this continued fight.

Alongside our continued and dedicated work in this area, West Ham United will join with its fellow clubs and English football’s governing bodies urge the UK Government to ensure its Online Safety Bill will bring in strong legislation to make social media companies more accountable for what happens on their platforms. This is timed ahead of the Queen’s speech, which will set out the Government’s agenda for the next session of Parliament on Tuesday 11 May, where it is hoped that a bill will be put into legislation around online and social media abuse.

Discriminatory abuse in any form will not be tolerated and we urge encourage supporters to continue to play their part in this by reporting it.

If you see a post on social media you believe is discriminatory, you can report it to the site or platform where it was posted.

They have people who will review your report and decide on taking it down.

Here is how to report an abusive post on Instagram, Facebook and Twitter:

Instagram – Tap the three dots above the post you want to report, select ‘Report’, answer the two questions to describe why the content is abusive, press submit.

Facebook – Tap the three dots in the top right of the post you want to report, select ‘Find support or report post’, select the option that describes why the content is abusive, press submit.

Twitter – Tap the three dots icon on the Tweet you want to report, select ‘Report’ and then ‘it’s abusive and harmful’, answer the short follow-up questions and then submit.

Our strong values as a Club, from the Board, players, staff and supporters, are clear. We will continue to assume a proactive role and fully understand our important role in fighting discrimination of all forms.

We are West Ham. United.