GIVEN that social media posts from many footballers, especially those at elite level, often take the form of either preening narcissism or shameless commercialism, the idea of them being placed on mute for a day didn’t seem that much of a hardship.

On Friday, however, there was a serious point at stake as players put their celebrity status and vast followings to positive use in an attempt to combat the persistent problem of racism in football.

Created by the Professional Footballers’ Association in England, the #Enough campaign encouraged players to boycott all social media channels for 24 hours in protest at the growing trend of racist abuse being aimed at players via channels such as Twitter, Facebook and Instagram.

The campaign soon snowballed and received the backing of a number of players, clubs and other organisations who agreed to a day of online silence in a bid to, in the PFA’s words, “shine a light on the need for social media platforms to take responsibility to address racism received by professional footballers and other users online”.

It remains to be seen what this action – or, in this case, inaction – actually achieves, although if it causes the sort of dim-witted simpleton who thinks it’s fine to abuse people online to pause for thought for even a second, or shames social media corporate behemoths into taking additional responsibility for their content then it will all have been worthwhile.

The hope, though, is that this might just be the start of a period of direct action that is badly needed to tackle the various ills that have blighted our game for far too long. Granted, it didn’t take a huge effort to ask players to send a message of support for a campaign before putting their phones away for a day, but if professionals can be galvanised to act to back one cause, then perhaps that collective strength can be used in other more meaningful ways, too.

In Scotland, the wait goes on for the football authorities to effectively tackle various elements of anti-social behaviour including sectarian abuse, missile throwing, and pitch invaders. Constrained by legislation and by the will of the clubs they are there to serve, there is often little the Scottish FA or SPFL are able to do. Strict liability? Few clubs are ever going to vote for something that isn’t in their best interests.

Perhaps, then, it is time for those directly involved to start to take matters into their own hands. Ann Budge has been the first to acknowledge there has been a problem at Hearts with some fans at certain games and, rather than look the other way and blame others, has taken the proactive stance of closing a section of Tynecastle.

Her stance will hopefully get the ball rolling. Will others have the courage to follow? Oran Kearney admitted recently he had considered taking his St Mirren players off the field when it initially looked like goalkeeper Vaclav Hladky had been struck by a firecracker thrown from within the Celtic support. He didn’t, but perhaps football taking matters into its own hands is what it’s going to take to finally free our game from the scourge of vandals and hooligans determined to ruin it.

Next time a player is subjected to racist or sectarian abuse during a match, will his team-mates – and the opposition – be bold enough to stop the game and sit down for as long as it takes for the culprit to be identified, ejected and banned? Will the Scottish FA be brave enough to give referees license to endorse the use of such direct action and not clamp down on those involved? You would hope so in both instances.

Of course, while fans throwing objects at players or venturing on to the pitch in menacing fashion are still relatively rare occurrences, the greatest plague on our game remains communal sectarian singing.

On that front, clubs need to be willing to risk alienating their own support to make a point. If the problem is persistent at away games, they should threaten not to take up their full allocation at future matches or even not take any tickets at all. At home games, most clubs now have comprehensive CCTV coverage that can zoom in on every spectator in every seat. If they had the desire to do so, any fan singing sectarian chants could be given a warning and then banned for repeat offences. But there has to be a willingness to take that step.

Budge’s actions have not proved universally popular with the Hearts support but the majority of right-minded fans will see it as a necessary move to try to clean up her club.

Supporters should not be exempt from taking direct action either. While there will be a reluctance to “grass” on a fellow fan, it is only by trying to create an environment that doesn’t provide cover for those intent on causing trouble that the game can hopefully finally move on.

Ultra groups have provided a much-needed injection of colour and noise into previously sterile all-seated stadia and their reputations don’t deserve to be impugned by a handful of malevolent hangers-on. It is within their hands to root out those giving them a bad name.

Footballers have finally woken up and realised their influence can be used as a tool for change. Now it is time for others to follow their lead.