As comments made by football players on social networking sites, in particular Twitter, continue to make headlines, PFA Scotland is reminding players once again to exercise caution and use common sense when posting messages.
There is no doubt that social networking sites can benefit a player by enhancing his reputation, allowing him more interaction with fans and increasing his commercial and media opportunities. However, problems can arise if this fantastic medium is not used correctly as the most severe consequences of any inappropriate behaviour or comments can be civil proceedings and/or sanctions by a club and the Scottish FA.
Jack Ross from PFA Scotland commented “Since the beginning of last season we have issued players with guidelines on the use of social media via our newsletters and website. We believe it is essential that players are aware of their responsibilities and become educated on what are appropriate postings on social media sites. While there are some clubs providing players with their own social media policy ensuring that any breach of them could lead to club disciplinary action, the procedures provided by the Scottish FA’s Judicial Panel Protocol mean that players can face sanctions such as multiple match bans for making comments which are deemed to have brought the game into disrepute”
“We have therefore given players a simple seven point criteria which they should refer to if using social media and if players can follow these guidelines then they should continue to embrace the likes of Twitter and present their views. Players opinions are not sought often enough on footballing matters despite them being the ones who play the game and have the greatest experiences of being on the pitch. Therefore an opportunity for players to express these opinions should be cherished albeit with a degree of sensibility.”
Seven Point Criteria for Players
1. Avoid commenting on matters relating to referees and internal club matters such as team selection.
2. Avoid making instant comment
3. Avoid being critical of those who hold positions of authority within football
4. Ask yourself if you would make the same comment in front of live television cameras.
5. Remember that the media patrol footballers’ sites and can publish any comments made without your consent as blogging is considered to be in the public domain
6. Be completely certain of the accuracy/legitimacy of what you are saying
7. If you are unsure as to whether a post may be controversial don’t post it!