Did you know that you can be charged by The FA for offensive comments on Social Media?
We all like to talk about football, whether it’s on the pitch, on the sidelines, or in the car on the way home. Discussion and debate have always been part of the game, and these days that includes the use of social media.
But did you know that both individuals and grassroots clubs can be charged for Improper Conduct when offensive or insulting comments are posted on social networks or their own websites? These include, but are not limited to:
With cases involving comments made on social media increasing, it is important that participants in football be aware of the relevant FA Rules and Regulations so that they can ensure these are not broken.
Cases involving media comments or comments made on social networking sites are charged under FA Rule E3(1).
Rule E3(1) of the FA’s Rules of the Association states that, “A participant shall at all times act in the best interests of the game and shall not act in any manner which is improper or brings the game into disrepute or use any one, or a combination of, violent conduct, serious foul play, threatening, abusive, indecent or insulting words or behaviour".
Types of comment
The following types of public media comment, including on social networking websites, may be considered to be in breach of FA Rule E3:
• Comments which are improper, which bring the game into disrepute, which are threatening, abusive, indecent or insulting
• Comments about match officials which imply bias, attack the officials’ integrity or which are personally offensive in nature
Should the comments include a reference to any one whether express or implied, to ethnic origin, colour, race, nationality, religion or belief, gender, gender reassignment, sexual orientation or disability, these are considered Aggravated Breaches and FA Rule E3(2) may apply. Mandatory minimum sanctions are applicable to certain Aggravated Breaches.
Further Points to Note
Participants are deemed responsible for any postings on their account. The fact that a post may have been made by a third party will not necessarily prevent disciplinary action being taken. In addition, sharing another person’s post may lead to disciplinary action if the original comment was improper.
Finally, deleting an inappropriate post, whilst advisable, does not necessarily prevent disciplinary action being taken.
Reporting of Inappropriate Content
Clearly it would be impossible for us to be aware of every post shared across social media platforms. Should you see anything which you believe is in breach of the rules as outlined above, please ensure it is reported for us to investigate.
It’s helpful if relevant links are provided and screen shots taken to ensure that we have the necessary evidence to pursue the case. Any such report should be sent to our football services team using firstname.lastname@example.org.
These guidelines have been prepared to provide helpful guidance with regard to media comments and social network postings. The guidelines in no way affect, supersede, alter or replace the FA Rules and Regulations