PFA Scotland believes it is important to offer advice to its members about the use of social networking sites, including Twitter, Facebook and Internet Blog Posts.
Social media is an ever growing area and more recent additions like Instagram, Snapchat, Vine etc all fall under the same umbrella.
Players should be aware that comments made on sites like Twitter are considered to be in the public domain and, if the comments are considered to be improper, could be deemed to be bringing the game into disrepute.
Furthermore, if these comments are viewed as threatening, abusive, indecent or insulting then disciplinary action could be faced by a player from their club or governing body.
Players are expected to act in the best interests of the game at all times and should be fully aware of this when using any social network sites.
Players should also be aware that even postings/comments made on social network sites like Facebook, which you believe to be private and only accessible to selected friends and family, may still end up in the public domain. Players should therefore exercise caution and common sense when posting any comments.
The formation of the SFA’s Judicial Panel highlights the fact that the governing bodies are coming down hard on anyone who breaks the rules. In the last two seasons there have been high profile cases, both here and In England, where players have faced punishment for comments made.
The SFA inparticular will use a strong handed disciplinary approach to protect referees from criticism.
The protocol states that a player criticising match officials’ performance and calling their integrity in to question will be open to disciplinary action. In addition, players may be punished for making comment via social networks that is deemed to have brought the game into disrepute.
The sanctions for any player found guilty of breaching the regulations surrounding social media are particularly severe and could result in at least a three, four or five game suspension with a maximum punishment of twenty games.
To avoid any problems or punishments, PFA Scotland recommends following the guidelines listed below when using social media:
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 whether a post may be controversial then don’t post it
Should you have any queries relating to the issue of social media then please contact PFA Scotland – Michelle Evans 07796 171490 or email email@example.com