FA to Penalize Players for Criticizing Officials on Twitter

By Community | May 4, 2012

The FA will offer harsh penalties against players who use Twitter and other social networking sites to criticise match officials.

The news comes in the same week that controversial QPR captain Joey Barton announced his return to Twitter after what he called a ‘sabbatical’

Disciplinary chiefs have warned that internet posts will now be treated as public comment, and are therefore susceptible to the same rules as if they appeared in newspapers, on radio or on TV.

The FA have sent written warnings to all licensed agents after numerous complaints against attacks on referees. Players have been told that deleting posts or claiming that their account was accessed by another are no longer acceptable defences.

The letter states: “An individual is strictly responsible for any posting on his/her account.

“Participants should take every care to ensure that others do not access their account, as the fact that a posting or comment may have been made by a third party will not prevent disciplinary action being taken against the account holder.”

The letter goes on: “Any comments which are improper, bring the game into disrepute or are threatening, abusive, indecent or insulting may lead to disciplinary action. Comments about match officials which imply bias, attack the officials’ integrity or are overly personal in nature are considered improper.”

Any comments about a person’s ethnic origin, colour, race, nationality, faith, gender, sexual orientation or disability ‘may be considered aggravated and attract a higher disciplinary sanction’ warns the letter.

Even re-tweeting another person’s post could lead to disciplinary action, while deleting an improper posting will not prevent action being taken.