The British Horseracing Authority (BHA) has declared that it will participate in a social media boycott this weekend with other sporting organisations to raise awareness of online racism and abuse.
Horse racing joined the boycott at 9 p.m. yesterday (30 April), following a memorial for Lorma Brooke, an amateur jockey who died of injuries sustained in a racing accident earlier this month, which will end at 11.59 p.m. on 3 May.
Due to two flat racing ‘Classics’ taking place this weekend at Newmarket on Saturday and Sunday, the BHA’s announcement takes on added significance.
Julie Harrington, Chief Executive of the BHA explains: “British racing supports the need to protect participants in sport from online hatred and abusive messages. We believe sports competitors and officials deserve respect and that social media should not be a hostile environment for those trying their best to compete and provide entertainment for the public.
“I am grateful to everyone in the sport who takes part in this boycott to help spread this clear message of solidarity to social media companies and say that enough is enough, and change is needed.”
The Jockey Club, which owns Newmarket Racecourse, will also join the boycott, and all racecourses holding meetings this weekend, as well as groups representing horse racing members, have been told of the bodies’ support for the social media movement.
Support for the boycott
UEFA, the FA, the Premier League, the LTA, England Rugby, Scottish Football, UK Athletics, and the Gallagher Premiership are among the other notable sports organisations participating in the social media boycott.
“Our members receive vile abuse on a daily basis,” said Paul Struthers, Chief Executive of the Professional Jockeys Association (PJA). ” We are sick an tired of it and the lack of action by social media companies.
“We and our members stand shoulder to shoulder with other sports in sending a united message that online hate and discriminatory abuse is totally unacceptable and needs to be eliminated.”
Following the announcement yesterday that online betting exchange Smarkets and Gibraltar-registered bookmaker Mansion Group – a partner of both the JRC and the Arena Racing Company (ARC) – will also be joining the initiative, the BHA and JRC have decided to join the list of participating bodies, athletes, sponsors, and broadcasters.