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SFA issues social network warning to clubs

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Players and managers are increasingly using social networks to communicate with fans

By John Barnes

The Scottish Football Association chief executive Stewart Regan has taken steps to ensure players in Scotland do not ridicule referees on social networks.

In a letter to every club in Scotland Regan warns that abuse on Twitter or Facebook would incur a penalty for bringing the game into disrepute.

On Sunday, Liverpool's Ryan Babel posted a faked image on Twitter of ref Howard Webb in a Manchester Utd shirt.

Babel was upset by the Webb's decisions in Sunday's FA Cup tie against United.

In his letter to all clubs, which was dated 7 January, Regan said that in response to the growth in the popularity in the area of social networking websites, the General Purposes Committee considered it appropriate to issue a reminder to all associations, clubs, officials, players of the implications of the use of such websites in regard to the SFA's Articles of Association.

Under the terms the Association requires that any recognised football body, club, official, player or other person under the jurisdiction of the Association should not make comment which could be critical of match officials or be capable of being construed as bringing the game into disrepute.

SFA chief executive Stewart Regan

The letter reads: "Under the terms the Association requires that any recognised football body, club, official, player or other person under the jurisdiction of the Association should not make comment which could be critical of match officials or be capable of being construed as bringing the game into disrepute.

"Such a requirement covers a wide range of mediums, including press articles and official club websites, and extends also to blogs and other social networking websites.

Regan also reminded the clubs of their obligation to ensure that any publications, including match programmes or any other audio/visual material, "do not contain any criticism of a match official calculated to indicate bias or incompetence or to impinge upon the character of officials".

On Sunday, World Cup final referee Webb awarded Manchester United a penalty and sent off Liverpool captain Steven Gerrard, prompting Babel to post an image ridiculing the FA official after the match.

The move by Regan could be viewed as a way of backing referees by trying to prevent those within the game using social network sites to air their criticism of officals.

In November, Scottish referees went on strike claiming their integrity was being called into question by factions within the Scottish game and expressed concern for their personal safety and that of their families.



see also
Babel accepts FA Twitter charge
13 Jan 11 |  Liverpool
No social networking at Man Utd
20 Jan 10 |  Technology
Apology for football Twitter post
14 Apr 09 |  Wales politics



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