PFA plan social media warning

The Professional Footballers’ Association are to warn players

they need to be “vigilant” about their use of social networking

sites.

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.