PFA plan social media warning

The PFA have become increasingly concerned at the amount of abuse

aimed at their members and plan to put the matter near the top of

their agenda in the summer. Manchester United striker Wayne Rooney

was the latest high-profile player to come under attack. He had a

heated exchanged on Twitter during which he wrote to a follower

“I’ll put u asleep within 10 seconds” after being provoked. Rooney

said later it was nothing more than banter. Bobby Barnes, deputy

chief executive of the PFA, believes the situation in general must

be addressed. Barnes said: “We speak to the players before the

beginning of the season regarding rule changes and certain things

they need to be on the ball about, whether it be anti-doping or the

Respect campaign. “Very much on our agenda for the beginning of

next season is how best we would advise them on how to use all

social media. You do have to be vigilant when you are in the public

eye. “They really need to be aware this is a medium that is not

intimate, a message you are sending between friends. It does have a

potential audience, particularly if you are a Premier League

player, of hundreds of thousands of people. “The question the

players should ask themselves is would they be so open either if

they were being interviewed or actually speaking in a public place.

“Young players especially embrace this technology and there is

potential to be quite indiscreet, say team selection for example.”

Many Premier League players have accounts on Twitter, including

Arsenal’s captain Cesc Fabregas, striker Robin van Persie and their

England midfielder Jack Wilshere. Arsenal manager Arsene Wenger

feels such media can be good for relations, provided they are not

abused. “At the moment we allow it. We are thinking about how to

use it the best way,” the Frenchman said. “It can be very positive

because it can be a good communication for the players with the

fans which doesn’t exist anymore. “It can as well have negative

repercussions for the clubs if it is not well used so we are

thinking about it. We will see what kind of direction we will go.”

Barnes claims it would be “a real shame” if players were hounded

off sites. He said: “The sad thing about it is for so long players

have been accused of being out of touch with fans. “Then you have

someone like Wayne Rooney who is actually making a conscious effort

to engage with the fans. “It would be a real shame if players were

driven off these sites on the basis of saying it is just not worth

it. “It is not just footballers, once you are out there, you are

not always going to get people responding to you in a positive way.

It is something we are very aware off.” Earlier this season, West

Ham striker Carlton Cole was fined £20,000 by the Football

Association for remarks posted during England’s 1-1 draw with Ghana

at Wembley in March. And then-Liverpool striker Ryan Babel was

fined £10,000 after he posted a link to a mocked-up picture of

referee Howard Webb in a Manchester United shirt after an FA Cup

defeat at Old Trafford.