British Cycling joins social media boycott to protest online abuse towards athletes 

The national governing body hopes social media companies will take action 

(Image credit: DeFodi Images via Getty Images)

British Cycling will join the upcoming social media boycott to protest the online abuse athletes face.

Organisations from across the sporting world are banding together this weekend to fall silent on social media, to raise awareness of online racism and abuse directed towards professional sportspeople. 

The national governing body for cycling in the UK will stop posting on Facebook, Instagram, Twitter and TikTok from 3pm on Friday (April 30) and will remain silent until 11.59pm on Monday (May 3). 

British Cycling says it hopes social media companies will take action to combat online abuse. 

CEO Brian Facer said: “Social media has a massive power to do good, but all too often we see its power to do harm as well. Sport is about passion, and while we respect everyone’s right to an opinion it needs to be expressed in an appropriate and respectful way.

“Sport should be inclusive, diverse and welcoming, and athletes must be able to engage with the public without being on the receiving end of sustained, pervasive and abhorrent abuse. Equally importantly, the social media companies have a responsibility to be good corporate citizens, and along with other national governing bodies, clubs and individuals, we call on these companies to play their part too.

“By uniting in solidarity this weekend, sport will be highlighting what is a very important issue which impacts a range of areas. Hopefully it will make the individuals who post abuse think twice, and force the social media companies – who need the kind of engagement and traffic provided by sport to help generate revenues – to be more proactive, too.” 

The idea for the boycott originated in football with the largest governing bodies in England all announcing their social media silence, including the Football Association and the Premier League. 

Earlier this year French pro rider Nacer Bouhanni revealed the racist abuse he was subjected to online. 

The wave of racist abuse aimed at Bouhanni came after he was disqualified from Cholet-Pays de la Loire for forcing Groupama-FDJ rider Stewart into the barrier during the sprint finish. 

>>> Lords call for mandatory bells on bikes because of ‘aggressive and foul-mouthed cyclists’  

 Since the incident, Bouhanni was targeted with racial abuse, both in comments online and in direct messages sent to his social media accounts.   

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