Former France star Thierry Henry said on Tuesday in Lisbon that he planned to fight online harassment and pressure social media companies in alliance with an NGO and his sponsor Puma.
“We need help,” Henry told the Web Summit tech conference in Lisbon. “We’ve all been touched by it.”
In March, Henry, currently assistant coach of the Belgian national team, closed his social media accounts.
“Me as an individual I’m OK without it,” he said, as he announced the campaign with sportswear manufacturer Puma and the Game of Our Lives foundation.
“We need help from people in higher positions,” he added, saying he wanted social media companies to be held responsible. “We need to come together to make sure that those people maybe legislate a law that will make those platforms more accountable.”
“I don’t think they’re doing anything near what is required for us to feel safe on it,” he added. “They’re not really trying to change anything.”
In April, football clubs, players, sporting bodies, mainly English, as well as Britain’s Prince William, staged a three-day boycott of social media aimed at tackling online abuse including racism.
Despite that action and Henry’s withdrawal from social media, Puma’s marketing director Adam Petrick, standing alongside the former World Cup winner, said his company was not considering the same strategy.
“Boycotting isn’t for us a likely option,” he said. “The platforms have to be our partners in having a meaningful conversation about taking specific steps. Some of them are making progress…but not all of them and not enough.”