LONDON: A British soccer-instigated boycott of the world’s biggest social media platforms by professional athletes, sports teams, governing bodies and broadcasters got underway on Saturday in response to continued online racist abuse against a number of Black athletes. The boycott, announced by England’s football authorities a week ago and swiftly bolstered by a number of other sports bodies, is aimed at pressurising social media giants to take more action against all forms of abuse on their platforms, and runs from 1500 BST (1400 GMT) on Friday to 2359 BST on Monday. Manchester United said earlier on Friday its own analysis had found that since September 2019, there had been a 350% increase in abuse directed towards its players. “By taking part in this boycott this weekend, we, alongside the rest of English football, want to shine a light on the issue,” United’s group managing director Richard Arnold said. Britain’s soccer clubs were joined by European soccer’s governing body UEFA, British Cycling, the Rugby Football Union (RFU), the England and Wales Cricket Board (ECB), and Formula One world champion Lewis Hamilton among others, plus media companies including Sky Sports and BT Sport. “Sky Sports stands with our football, cricket and other sport partners to urge social media companies to do more to eradicate online hate and ensure social media can be a place for sports fans to discuss, debate and consume the best sporting action without discrimination and abuse,” the broadcaster said. Announcing it was joining the boycott this week, BT Sport said the “horrific cycle of online abuse had to end”. The International Tennis Federation (ITF) was one of the bodies to join on Friday. “The level of abuse individuals are forced to endure is completely unacceptable, which is why we are… calling on social media companies to act now to protect individuals who are merely doing their jobs,” ITF president David Haggerty said. In response to the boycott, Twitter said that since the English soccer season started in September it had removed 7,000 of the 30 million Tweets in the UK about soccer.