Careful, that Twitter post might turn and bite you

It has become common practice among sports people to turn to Facebook and Twitter to voice their thoughts on any aspect of their job these days.

However, some of their comments on these social networks have landed them in trouble.

The latest controversy is that of Liverpool striker Ryan Babel.

Reacting to Liverpool’s loss to Manchester United last weekend, the Dutch international mocked 2010 World Cup final referee Howard Webb by posting a picture of him wearing a United jersey.

Although the trend is not yet rife on the domestic front, Absa Premiership clubs have warned their players to refrain from making controversial remarks in cyberspace.

Former Orlando Pirates player Gert Schalkwyk is among a few local players who recently elicited a strong reaction after he posted on his Facebook page that he was quitting football.

Pirates’ chief executive Floyd Mbele said Schalkwyk’s statement was not serious because it was easily esolved.

“We have a policy hand-book that has regulations and a code of conduct, which every player has,” said Mbele.
Schalkwyk has since been loaned to Maritzburg United.

Mbele said, however, they could not stop players from socialising on these networks.

“We cannot say players should not use these things, but it must be done within the confines of the club. There are parameters that it must be done within, otherwise it will break the rules of the club,” he said.

Bloemfontein Celtic chief executive Ike Augousti said they also had a manual that every player had to sign.

“They know what they must and must not do and luckily we have not experienced anything unbecoming. Players must be wary of what they say, for it can bring the club into disrepute,” said Augousti.

Moroka Swallows coach Gordon Igesund said he was so preoccupied with the club’s standing on the log that he had not applied his mind to other things.

He said, however, players needed to realise they belonged to clubs and had to protect their image and not divulge club secrets.

“Players should be aware that what happens in a workplace is not for public consumption. They’ve got to be sensible and not just say things that will land them in trouble,” said Igesund.

Alex Shakoane of Mamelodi Sundowns said players had to be responsible.

“They know they cannot say anything without seeking permission first; that is the rule,” said Shakoane.

But just two months ago Sundowns defender Eduardo Ferreira posted on his Facebook page: “If people do not believe in my work … time to change club.”

The player argued that he was a bit upset when he posted the comment last October.

“People were saying, come to Pirates or Chiefs, and some were saying come back to Ajax,” Ferreira said at the time after his story dominated online media.

Bidvest Wits’s George Mogotsi said the club distributed a code of conduct manual to players as early as pre-season training, so they could familiarise themselves with the club’s rules and regulations.

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