Going viral, going down

2015-04-19 15:00

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Itumeleng Khune is likely to join a growing band of sportspeople who have being fined or suspended for utterances off the field.

In a first in South African football, the Premier Soccer League (PSL) will take action against a player’s remarks on social media.

This after the PSL charged the Kaizer Chiefs goalkeeper with bringing the league and Safa into disrepute after his Twitter rants about referees.

Khune’s crime was to vent his frustration on his Twitter account after he was sent off the field by referee Philip Tinyani for dissent in his club’s 1-0 win over AmaZulu on Thursday last week.

“It’s about time action is taken against this referees by @OfficialPSL. They’ve been very poor since beginning of the season. It’s unfair hw we are painted bad for our actions on de field bt we are provoked by thse referees, can cal me names but I stand 4 what’s right,” a miffed Khune tweeted moments after the game.

However, the Bafana Bafana goalie later took to Instagram to apologise for his outburst.

“To the football fraternity, my Family, Friends, Teammates and Fans. No words can validate my careless statements on social media yesterday. All I have now are apologies for my choice of words which were not appropriate,” he said.

Khune was given five days to explain himself and has been ordered to appear before the PSL disciplinary committee on Thursday.

Although his case might be a first in South African football, authorities have already meted out harsh sanctions to several prominent sportspeople.

In cricket, former England batsman Kevin Pietersen was also hauled over the coals for his four-letter Twitter post in which he accidentally announced he was dropped from the England team.

Pietersen was also fined an “undisclosed sum” by the England and Wales Cricket Board after a Twitter attack on former batsman Nick Knight.

“Can someone please tell me how Nick Knight has worked his way into the commentary box for the Tests? Ridiculous,” tweeted Pietersen.

Former Manchester United defender Rio Ferdinand was also suspended for three matches and fined £25?000 (R450?900) for comments he made on Twitter in October last year.

The 35-year-old Queens Park Rangers (QPR) player was tagged in a tweet that read: “Maybe QPR will sign a good CB [centre back] they need one.” In response, he tweeted: “get ya mum in, plays the field well son! #sket”, the latter being a slang word for a promiscuous woman.

What these sports stars need to learn is that the minute a tweet is sent, it goes viral and hiding it becomes virtually impossible.

In addition, voicing opinions in anger – especially a few minutes after a game – can often lead to regrets once emotions start to subside.

Last month, Paris Saint-Germain’s striker Zlatan Ibrahimovic received a three-match ban (reduced from the initial four-match ban) from French Ligue 1 for his television comments attacking France and its referees.

Ibrahimovic said France did not deserve a team like star-studded Paris Saint-Germain because of the way it was treated.

“In 15 years I’ve never seen a [good] referee in this s*** country ... [they] don’t even deserve PSG. Wake up, wake up... we’re not amateurs. F****** a******,” he said.

Mamelodi Sundowns coach Pitso Mosimane is also in hot water for his remarks about referee Thabo Nkosi after his club drew 1-1 with Mpumalanga Black Aces last week.

He hit the roof after Nkosi disallowed a goal, which would have sealed the game for his side. Mosimane went on to say Nkosi had stolen the show and deserved to be man of the match.

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