PFA Scotland believes it is important to offer advice to its members relating to the use of social networking sites, including, but not limited to Twitter, Facebook and Internet Blogs.
Players should be aware that comments made on such sites may be considered public comment, and could be deemed to be bringing the game into disrepute if the comments are considered improper. Furthermore, if these comments are viewed as threatening, abusive, indecent or insulting then disciplinary action could be faced by a player.
Players are expected to act in the best interests of the game at all times and therefore should be fully aware of this when participating in social network sites.
Players should also be aware that even those postings made on social network sites which they believe to be private and only accessible to a limited number of selected people may still end up in the public domain. Players should therefore exercise caution and common sense with regards to the contents of such postings.
Furthermore it is clear from the new Scottish FA Judicial Panel Protocol that the Association will use a strong disciplinary approach to protect referees in particular from criticism.
The protocol states that a player criticising match officials’ performance that impinge upon the integrity of an official 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 disripute.
Also, the Judicial Panel will only have to decide the level of guilt as the set tariffs define the sanction. 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 that players remember a number of guidelines, which are 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