Lewis Hamilton will add his backing to the social media boycott taking place this weekend across English sport aimed at putting pressure on online platforms to tackle racism, abuse and discrimination.
The Formula One world champion – who has an enormous global audience on Instagram 和 22 million followers and a further 6.3 million on Twitter – revealed he had been subjected to online abuse and was proud so many sporting organisations led by English football and including cricket, rugby and tennis clubs, players and bodies were backing the initiative, although F1 has yet to do so. Guardian Sport is also adding its support to the campaign.
Speaking before this weekend’s Portuguese Grand Prix in Portimão, Hamilton said personal experience gave the initiative particular resonance. “I was subject to abuse a long, long time ago, at a time when I was younger, when I was reading social media, trying to engage with people,“ 他说. “I took a period of time when I stepped back. I generally don’t go searching for that stuff, I don’t feel like I need validation.
“I do believe the social media companies need to do more. They are able to take steps in helping to create a more anti-racist society, that is what we have to be pushing towards. I am proud to hear so many organisations are getting involved, I’m not sure why F1 is not a part of that, but I know people like Sky are and I will follow and support this weekend.”
Hamilton was an outspoken supporter of the Black Lives Matter movement last season after the death of George Floyd and became a strident activist promoting anti-racism in F1. He has committed to continue to push to make the sport more diverse and to encourage greater action in combating racism.
The boycott – inaugurated last Saturday by the Professional Footballers’ Association, the Kick It Out anti-racism campaign and the Football Supporters’ Association – came in reaction to some high-profile racist abuse online including the Liverpool players Trent Alexander-Arnold, Naby Keïta and Sadio Mané and Aston Villa’s Tyrone Mings. It has since gathered huge momentum. Stuart Broad has cited the racist abuse his England teammate Jofra Archer was subject to last year and Hamilton believed F1, 也, still had a long way to go in combating the problem.
“Clearly in sport, racism continues to be an issue,“ 他说. “Social media platforms do need to do more in order to combat this so I am fully supportive of the initiative. If me also doing it helps putting pressure on those platforms in order to help fight against it then I am happy to do so.”
It is understood F1 is not joining the boycott because the sport does not suffer an abuse problem on social media. They offer support but will not be formally joining the boycott, stating: “We continue to work with all platforms and our own audiences to promote respect and positive values and put a stop to racism.”
The boycott – led initially by English football and now joined by English cricket, Premiership rugby, the Lawn Tennis Association and Sky Sports television – will take place from 3pm on Friday through to 11.59pm on Monday. All social media accounts including those of players, teams and organisations will fall silent in an attempt to make Twitter, Instagram and Facebook act against racism and abuse.
Hamilton’s contract at Mercedes lasts until the end of this season and he has yet to make it clear he will continue in the sport. However in Portugal he gave the clearest indication yet that he will do so, citing his desire to continue pursuing equality and diversity as a strong motivation to keep racing.
He said he had recently taken part in a Pirelli tyre test because “I plan to be here next year”, a statement he expanded upon, saying he believed he could still instigate change while driving in F1.
“It’s encouraging to see the steps my team are making toward becoming more inclusive and more diverse. We still have a lot of work to do as a sport, there are still many teams that have continued to stay silent, and people that have not been held accountable. There is still a lot to do in this sport and I know that being in it I have more chance of helping change that than not. I don’t know how long I can stay though, we will see.”