NEVER mind the game, one false move on Twitter or Facebook could see players fall foul of the authorities, writes Martin Hannan.
AS IF they didn’t have enough to worry about on the pitch, every player, coach and official involved in the World Cup tournament in Brazil now has to be concerned about what they do and say off the pitch.
The rise of social media and the ubiquity of smartphones with cameras will mean that all the participants in the World Cup will be under scrutiny as never before in the history of the tournament.
Nor will their actions and words be the subject simply of journalistic inquiry – sure, there will be reporters covering their activities, but it is likely to be the man and woman in the street who will catch them out should players stray from the straight and narrow.
Sometimes it will even be the players who will land themselves in trouble. Just one ill-considered post on Twitter or Facebook, for example, and a player might find his participation in the world’s greatest football tournament abruptly curtailed.
That’s why they should all heed the warning of Scottish sports law and employment law expert Graham Mitchell of Simpson and Marwick, solicitors. Be careful about your personal conduct, is his message, and be very careful indeed when using social media .
“Sponsors, Fifa and their own national associations would all have a strong view if there was a Twitter message by a player that is not accordance with the values and policies of these bodies,” says Mitchell.
“The fact you are representing your nation – and not just your club – in a global event increases the risk.
“Often players get intotrouble because of their ill-judged attempts at humour. These are just young men – they could easily stray into making remarks that could be construed as racist, sexist or homophobic, for example.