Rio Ferdinand issues powerful statement on abuse and asks fans to share this

Rio Ferdinand has issued a rallying cry to all football fans – urging them not to spread hate online during the upcoming crunch last 16 Euro 2020 matches and share a pledge instead.

The former England defender is the manager of Hope United, which is an all-star team of footballers set up by BT – including Marcus Rashford, Gareth Bale, Lucy Bronze and more – whose goal is to tackle online hate this summer.

And Rio has spoken out in a bid to stop anger spilling online should results not go the right way in the coming days – no matter who you support.

Rio, 42, said: "It is fantastic to see how well received the Hope United campaign has been so far. But it is important to remember if things don’t go to plan and passions are running high, that we don’t let hate win.

"So we now want everyone in the UK to get behind the squad during the Euros, and help tackle online hate by sharing The Pledge on social media."

The Pledge image – which you can copy above or download here – reads: "Hate has no place on my timeline, in my inbox, in my life. Hope can beat hate if we all stand together." Share the pledge to your profile with the hashtag #HopeUnited to show you stand against online hate.

In the weeks since the squad was launched, Hope United has drawn support from across the world of sport and beyond – including the stars below. So what are you waiting for? Download The Pledge now at and share to show your support.

Marc Allera, chief executive of BT’s consumer division, hailed the new initiative and called on fans to back Rio's call. He added: "We are asking the country to make Hope United its second team. If everyone stands together, unified through both words and action, hope can emerge victorious over hate."

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