Today it has been announced by The FA that England players will be expected to sign up to a ‘code of conduct’. It not only covers Twitter and Facebook but everything from use of video games, mobile phones and personal endorsements.
The role of social media channels has been one that has been under scrutiny for a long while. With so many players with personal accounts, who have differing amounts of help in running them, and tweets especially being picked up instantaniously by the press and fans something had to give.
At least now the players have these written down in front of them and they know the sanctions they would face for transgressing them. The section of most interest to us is on communication;
- All media activity co-ordinated through press office.
- All players should play a part in meeting media demands.
- Go through mixed zones (guidance that no ear-phones etc worn).
- No criticism on Twitter/Facebook.
- No Twitter or Facebook comments on the day before the game or the day of the game unless authorised.
- No media columns.
- Be aware that texts, picture messages, and BBM messages, can become public.
(picture from Telegraph.co.uk)
The point that most people will take from it is the ‘no criticism on Twitter/Facebook’ which very obviously has been placed in following Ashley Cole’s comments to the John Terry decision made by The FA.
Some may see the timeframe for the ban on using social platforms as harsh but this is around a few games per year. Thus the amount of communication during the year will be largely unaffected. The one time it will become more of an issue will be around events. Will the FA stop players from doing anything for the full duration? Quite possibly.
Other sports who have restricted players activities are the NBA. They have, for a few years now, had a rule in place that no player can use social media from between 45 mins before the game starts to a period of 45 mins after it finishes. This has been to ensure that sensitive info is not given, that players are not tempted to tweet during games (Shaq did this in the early days) and also to give the media outlets who have paid for rights the exclusivity of breaking news and interviewing key figures.
In terms of what England players can expect if they do step over the line. This can include;
- Investigation carried out by CE.
- All players must comply with investigation.
- If breach found, then option of sanctions (oral/written warning, exclusion from selection for fixed or indefinite period).
(picture from Telegraph.co.uk)
- Pending any outside investigation, (CPS etc) CE maintain right to suspend at their discretion.
- If case not proven or dropped, players available for selection.
- If non-custodial sentence, CE board decide on case-by-case basis.
- Custodial – excluded until time to be determined by CE management board.
- Serious allegations – captaincy may be removed at discretion of CEMB.
4.1: issuing an oral or written warning to the player.
4.2: determining that the player shall not be eligible for selection for a specific number of matches or specific period.
4.3: determining that the player shall not be eligible for an indefinite period.
- Where an allegation of serious misconduct has been made, the Club England Management Board may suspend a player while the matter is investigated further and/or pending the outcome of any footballing regulations or criminal investigations.
- Serious misconduct includes:
- Theft, dishonesty, fraud, deliberate falsification of records.
- Assault, battery, violence, deliberate damage to or misuse of FA property.
- Breach of safety-security regulations.
- Deliberate damage to FA property.
- Being under the influence of alcohol or illegal drugs.
- Any form of discrimination.
- Deliberate misuse of confidential information.
- Serious breach of FA rules/regs.
- No conduct that significant, materially or adversely impacts on reputation or integrity of FA.
- ANY decision of CEMB is final – There is no right of appeal.
- CEMB have power to publish in the press.
For more details on the rest of the items involved in the ‘code of conduct’ you can view the article here.