Nottinghamshire sporting clubs Nottingham Forest, Notts County, Mansfield Town, Nottingham Rugby Club and Nottingham Forest Ladies are all joining forces to take a united stance against abusive social media posts.
In addition to the sporting clubs mentioned, the local authorities, local media outlets and local politicians are also backing the campaign to clean up the world of social media and help stop any form of discrimination or hate-filled abusive comments.
In recent times, the world of sport has witnessed some horrific abuse of professional sportsmen and women, staff and fellow supporters. This has led to, in some cases, criminal convictions and lengthy stadium bans.
A Nottingham Forest spokesman said: "In truth there were a handful of trolls who were determined to abuse players/staff and other supporters at the beginning, however over the past six months we have seen this number grow. We are now at a point where we are being targeted with racist, homophobic and threatening comments on a regular basis. Whilst we are not attempting to censor opinions, in fact we encourage healthy debate amongst our supporters, we feel we cannot stand by and allow this minority to dictate and control our conversation on social media. We have been inundated with requests from our own fan base asking us to take action.
"We appreciate that following your team can be an emotional journey, however some of the abuse we have witnessed is not acceptable. Any individuals that are caught posting any racist, homophobic, slanderous or threatening posts will be instantly blocked from our social media channels and banned from entering The City Ground. We do not want to be associated with these individuals and they do not represent Nottingham Forest football club and the vast majority of its fans.”
A spokesperson for Notts County said: "We are very pleased to see the county's major sports clubs coming together to combat this very serious issue.
"As we communicated recently, we have reported a number of individuals for abusive comments made on digital platforms, some of which have resulted in club bans and police action.
"Unfortunately, however, this is a growing problem in society, not just sport, and it's important that as institutions within this city we take a united stand and send a clear message that vile abuse will not be tolerated."
Nottinghamshire Police support the clubs’ stance and vow to work together to eliminate such abusive individuals from social media
Chief Superintendent Rob Griffin from Nottinghamshire Police said: “Everyone in our county has the right to live their lives without the fear of being the target of racist, homophobic or any other kind of discriminatory abuse – regardless of whether that’s offline or on social media. That’s why we are standing shoulder-to-shoulder with our county’s sports clubs to confront what we believe is an important issue.
“Everybody who uses social media has a responsibility to do so within the law, which is why we must be clear that anyone who fails to do so and have respect for others online could expect to land themselves in court to answer for their actions.
“This is not about policing free speech or fair comment on how our county’s teams are faring on a match day, but we must make our position clear that grossly offensive and discriminatory messages that are reported to our officers will not be tolerated.”
Anyone who feels they have been subjected to racist, homophobic or any other kind of discriminatory abuse online can report this to Nottinghamshire Police by calling 101 or by using the online reporting form on the force website at www.nottinghamshire.police.uk