I am all for freedom of speech but there are a few basic rules to follow when you decide to use Social Media sites such as Twitter and Facebook or if, like me, you want to also blog as well. The main one being:
Think before you hit the Post or Publish button!
This advice is never more important than if you are a person who is already in the public eye – footballers especially please take note! Some of the worst offenders have been:
- Manchester United and England defender Rio Ferdinand who was fined £45,000 in August for bringing the game into disrepute after responding to a racially-suggestive tweet about Ashley Cole
- Arsenal midfielder Emmanuel Frimpong was also fined £6,000 in the same month after he used a derogatory term about Tottenham fans
- Then Liverpool winger Ryan Babel was fined £10,000 in January 2011 after he linked to a mocked-up picture of referee Howard Webb in a Manchester United shirt
So there was little surprise this morning when I read that Ashley Cole has been charged with misconduct by the Football Association in relation to a Twitter comment he posted about the governing body. Responding to the FA’s judgement in the John Terry racism case, he tweeted on Friday: “Hahahahaa, well done #fa I lied did I, #BUNCHOFT***S”. He has now deleted this tweet and issued an “unreserved apology” to the FA but the damage has already been done and he has until 16:00 BST on Thursday, 11 October to respond to the charge.
However, when former England captain Alan Shearer told the BBC at the weekend that Cole should be banned for Friday’s World Cup qualifier against San Marino as a punishment, Cole, 31, then responded by retweeting a message which criticised Shearer. When will he learn?
Former England left-back Graeme Le Saux is working with the FA to guide players on how they communicate. The former Southampton, Chelsea and Blackburn Rovers defender Le Saux is currently helping to make videos for the FA which will be shown to players about how the governing body operates and the punishments they can hand out for unacceptable behaviour, including the use of social media. He said this weekend – “The whole pleasure and access that social media gives you is that you are in control of what goes out there, but you must be sensible enough to hold that back.”
Social Media is not for people to bully, insult or intimidate, it is for communication. My advice to these players is straightforward. Instead of using your hands to type insulting messages for all to see, try just using your feet to kick a ball – this is after all what you’re being paid for!!!