PFA Scotland’s Jack Ross discusses the content of social media posts.
The modern day football player lives in an era where the explosion of social media and the numbers who use it mean that their performances have never come unde greater scrutiny, and opinions on their abilities never offered so freely.
It is undoubtedly a challenge for a player to become either immune to any criticism that is offered via the mediums of Facebook, or in particular Twitter, or indeed to remain detached from the platforms and their views at all times.
Therefore if it can be difficult for players not to react or be affected by comment from fans or media, should players be openly critical of a fellow professional through social media? I ask the question beacause it does happen, is becoming more common and usually presents itself in one of two ways.
Firstly, players watching matches and offering opinion on individual performances within that match and secondly players giving comment relating to a player they have played against in a recent match. The former is most likely to generate more debate as the argument will be that everyone is entitled to an opinion and that players will have poor games which leaves them open to justifiable criticism. However as using social media means that comment becomes available for public viewing and free to be used by whoever sees fit, a derogatory opinion about a seasoned and successful professional could be seen as some as being disrespectful.
For example, should an aspiring young professional choose to say via a public forum that a former international captain is hopeless or useless?
The second scenario is probably clearer in that players very rarely use strong language in their condemnation of a fellow player during a post match interview. Therefore the same logic and approach must be used when commenting through social media. Players must remember that the two are very much the same thing and indeed there is little excuse for a comment posted using Twitter or Facebook as the player has direct control over the wording.
Ultimately, an individual players perception on the use of social media and how openly critical they are of fellow professionals while using it will come down to the level of respect they feel should be afforded. Surely there should remain a degree of understanding between players of the difficulties of the profession they have chosen, and therefore ensure that there is a healthy appreciation of each other’s abilities and efforts.
Whatever a player’s individual view on whether it is right or wrong to opine publically on the abilities of a fellow player they must remain aware of the potential problems that may arise from making inappropraite comment on social media.
Scottish Football Association regulations cover the misuse of these platforms and already some players have found themselves cited for such incidents and as a consequence faced the potential of suspensions or fines.
Whether friend or foe of social media, players should be mindful of the high profile of their profession and not confuse fredom of opinion with lack of respect for those who they share a pitch with.