Horse racing announces support for social media boycott

The British Horseracing Authority (BHA) has announced that it will join other sporting organisations in this weekend’s social media boycott to highlight awareness of online racism and abuse.

Horse racing will join the boycott from 9pm today (30 April), following a commemoration for Lorma Brooke, the amateur jockey who passed away of injuries from a racing accident this month, and will conclude on 3 May at 11.59pm.

The BHA’s announcement takes on extra significance due to two flat racing ‘Classics’ also taking place this weekend at Newmarket on Saturday and Sunday.

“British racing supports the need to protect participants in sport from online hatred and abusive messages,” said Julie Harrington, Chief Executive of the BHA. “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.”

Additionally, Newmarket Racecourse owner The Jockey Club will also participate in the boycott and all racecourses hosting meetings this weekend have been informed of the bodies’ support for the social media initiative, as well as group’s representing horse racing participants.

Other prominent sporting organisations involved in the social media boycott include UEFA, the FA, Premier League, LTA, England Rugby, Scottish Football, UK Athletics and the Gallagher Premiership.

Paul Struthers, Chief Executive of the Professional Jockeys Association (PJA), also commented: “Our members receive vile abuse on a daily basis. We are sick and 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.”

The BHA and JRC’s decision to join the campaign follows the announcement yesterday that online betting exchange Smarkets and Gibraltar-registered bookmaker Mansion Group – a partner of both the JRC and Arena Racing Company (ARC) – would also be joining the array of participating bodies, athletes, sponsors and broadcasters.

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