After much thought and more than a few examples both positive and negative in nature, the Professional Footballers’ Association (PFA) has made a determination about the usage of social media among its members. The goal will be to improve the image of the game, and conversely, come down hard on those that misuse Twitter, Facebook, and other platforms.
There have been myriad incidences online over the last year that forced the PFA to put social media at the top of the off-season agenda. Most notably, star English player and Manchester United striker Wayne Rooney got into an intense online argument, one drawing lots of attention but shaken off by Rooney as overblown.
PFA chief executive Gordon Taylor spoke exclusively to ESPNsoccernet, saying that while they want to use the medium to promote the game, they will be vigilant in disciplining players.
“We are all keen on respecting the referees and for players to be acutely aware of the comments they make on social networking outlets which are open to public gaze and therefore to the media,” said Taylor.
There has been a love-hate relationship between athletes and Twitter over the last couple years. While athletes enjoy connecting with fans, there are more than a handful of detractors that use the direct connection to bash athletes, even going so far as forcing some off Twitter. Other athletes around England have questioned whether or not the effort expended to be on Twitter is worth the benefits.
Still, athletes from all sports have found their way online and used it to varying degrees of social. For English football, like any other organization, there is a place for Twitter.
“I am confident that new technology will eventually become the fabric of the game, and I feel that will be helpful to what we all want to achieve,” said Taylor.
Ultimately, however, there will be no shortage of online gaffes, errant Tweets, and virtual disputes. Luckily for the PFA, rarely do these indiscretions fall on a specific league or team; they are left at the foot of the individual for him or her to carry with, an association that will last as long as the Internet remembers, or until the next naïve athletes finds the need to share an impulse online.