England Netball CEO Fran Connolly says online abuse in netball will not be tolerated

England Netball CEO Fran Connolly says online abuse in netball will not be tolerated, as the governing body and the Netball Players Association join the social media boycott this weekend.

The four-day period of online silence, initially announced by a coalition of English football’s largest governing bodies and organisations, will run from 3pm on Friday, April 30 to 11:59pm on Monday, May 3, and is aimed to combat abuse and discrimination.

With Sky Sports’ own commitment to joining the boycott, the Vitality Netball Superleague matches scheduled for Rounds 13 and 14 will be available to watch on Sky Sports and on the Sky Sports website and app.

Key organisations from other UK sports – such as the England and Wales Cricket Board, England Rugby, Premiership Rugby, Scottish Rugby, the Professional Darts Corporation, British Cycling and the Lawn Tennis Association – have opted to join, as have other broadcasters including BT Sport, At The Races and talkSPORT.

The British Basketball League and Women’s British Basketball League will also support the boycott along with key rugby league organisations including the Rugby Football League, Super League Europe, Rugby League World Cup 2021 and the Rugby League Players’ Association.

“Online abuse in netball will not be tolerated, and it is vital that we play our part in keeping our channels a positive space, free from hate and abuse,” Connolly said, in a statement from England Netball.

“We are proud to be involved in this social media boycott and as part of our social media and code of conduct policies, urge those involved in our sport to stand against online abuse and harassment to protect everyone in our game and make a change together.

“Social media can be a great tool to connect with our netball family, reach new audiences and tell our stories, but social media can also sadly be used to spread abuse of players and others involved in our sport.

“We have heard from elite players and people involved at all levels of our sport who have experienced abuse on social media and it has no place in our game or society.

“We stand with football and the wider sporting community and believe social media companies can and should do more to prevent this.”

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The Netball Players Association have also shared their commitment to the boycott and director Liz Bloor made their position clear on Friday.

“The rising profile of netball’s elite athletes has been welcomed, but regrettably this has brought with it, incidents of abusive, derogatory and racist online comments aimed at some of our members.

“In supporting this boycott of the social media platforms, we hope that the companies concerned will follow through on their stated position that this is not acceptable and take robust action against the perpetrators. Sport should be a positive and inspiring environment for the athletes, officials and fans alike.”

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