The FA’s disciplinary committee have been busy boys the last few days.
First they banned Luis Suaréz for 10 games, now they have issued Norwich City defender Ryan Bennett with a misconduct charge.
Bennett — who scored his first EPL goal for the Canaries in the 2-1 win over Reading at the weekend — has deleted his Twitter account after being involved in heated exchanges with opposition fans. The 23-year-old defender posted this on Twitter, “I’ll finish you in a couple of seconds” in response to taunts from Arsenal fans following their victory over Norwich on April 13.
The Norwich player then issued his anger at not being able to respond to fans in the same manner in which he was being targeted. “Officially going to delete twitter! Seems you can’t say what you want on here, public can say why they want bit seems I can’t reply!”
So it begs the question, should soccer stars still have Twitter? Of course fans across the globe love it, they get to interact with their heroes and get an insight into the lives of professional soccer players.
But should players only use it to post pictures or tweets about training and games, their lavish lifestyles and what they’ve had for breakfast? Or should they run the risk of getting in heated debates with opposition fans, or even their own fans, and be banned or fined by the governing bodies for speaking their minds via the social networking site? It is a tricky question, which will only crop up more in the years and months ahead.
Some players don’t help themselves. But the majority use it sensibly. Most EPL teams have a member of their PR or media team to explain the issues of posting on Twitter, but the players are left to their own accords. Which is the beauty of it.
Bennett’s exchange in inexcusable. Even if he didn’t mean what he sent via Twitter, in the FA’s eyes he has “breached FA Rule E3 – use of abusive and/or insulting and/or threatening words in comments posted on a Twitter account.”
But where do you draw the line? And it is a very fine one for EPL players, clubs and governing bodies to try and tackle tactfully and with the ultimate goal of still allowing freedom of speech, without players fearing a playing ban will ensue if they step out of line.
I bet the FA can’t wait for this eventful week to be over. But you know what that say… these things always come in three’s.