Social Networking

This policy sets out the Club’s expectations for the responsible use of social networking sites and the potential consequences for those who use them improperly. It draws upon the FA’s Respect guidance on using club webpages, social networks, email and texts.
The FA’s intention is to safeguard children and young people involved in football. As with other leading world brands the FA uses social networking sites including Facebook, YouTube and Twitter as a way of getting messages across to the widest audience possible.
Whilst the use of social networking sites brings many opportunities and benefits it also opens up some new risks and challenges. That’s why the FA has teamed up with the Child Exploitation and Online Protection (CEOP) centre, which is run by the Police to promote online safety and vigilance, and their Thinkuknow programme to keep Under 18s safe online.

Guidance for Under 18s

Within football we want you to use social networks, the internet, texts and email safely to get the information you need. We have produced this guidance to keep us all safe and to ensure that we respect each other:

  • Tell an adult you trust about any communication that makes you feel uncomfortable or that asks you not to tell your parent/carer
  • Know who from the Club should be contacting you and how they should be contacting you
  • You can talk to the Club’s Child Welfare Officer if you are unhappy about anything sent to you or said about you over the internet, social networking sites, text messages or via email
  • Don’t post, host, text or email things that are hurtful, insulting, offensive, abusive, threatening or racist as this would go against football rules and could also be against the law
  • Don’t give out personal details including mobile numbers, email addresses or social networking account access to people you don’t know well offline
  • Facebook has different ‘set up’ guidelines for U18s to help to keep you safe – use them
  • Even if you get on with your coach, manager, administrator or Club officials, don’t invite them to become your friends online, they have been asked not to accept such invitations
  • Tell an adult you trust if an adult involved at the Club asks you to become their friend online and inform the Club’s Child Welfare Officer
  • If you receive an image or message which you find offensive, threatening or upsetting tell an adult you trust. Make sure you copy and save the image/message elsewhere or print it off before you remove and destroy it because this may be needed as evidence
  • You can find the latest information on the sites you like to visit, mobiles and new technology by clicking the Thinkuknow logo:
Thinkuknow logo
  • You can also report concerns directly to the police by clicking on this CEOP button:
CEOP logo

Guidance for coaches, managers, administrators and Club officials

Coaches, managers, administrators, Club officials and others in a position of trust in football need to act responsibly both on and off the field and this includes the use of electronic communications.
Therefore the Club advises that as a general principle coaches, managers, Club officials, etc, should not use social networking sites as the primary way of communicating with players.
Children and young people should be advised by their coaches, parents/carers and the Child Welfare Officer to always tell an adult they trust about communications that make them feel uncomfortable or where they’ve been asked not to tell their parent/carer about the communication.
Unless a child/young person is a direct relation, you should not:

  • accept as a friend, any Under 18 players or referees on social networking sites they are members of or share your own personal social networking sites with children or young people involved in youth football
  • make contact with children or young people known through football outside of the football context on social networking sites
  • use internet or web-based communications to send personal messages of a non football nature to a child or young person
  • engage in any personal communications, ‘banter’ or comments.

Consequences of improper use of social networking sites

The FA has issued clarification on the use of social networking sites, including, but not limited to Facebook, Twitter and internet blogs.

  • Users should be aware that comments made on such sites may be considered public comment, and that further to FA Rule E3, any comments which are deemed improper, bring the game into disrepute, or are threatening, abusive, indecent or insulting will lead to disciplinary action.
  • Comments which are personal in nature or could be construed as offensive, use foul language or contain direct or indirect threats aimed at other participants are likely to be considered improper.
  • Users are required to act in the best interests of the game at all times and should be aware of this when using social networking sites. Furthermore, users are reminded that postings on social networking sites which they believe to be visible to a limited number of selected people may still end up in the public domain and consequently, care should be exercised with regards to the contents of such postings
  • In addition, users are reminded that social networking site postings could also lead to civil proceedings being brought by affected parties.
Managers are advised to make players aware of this policy, and to politely warn players about the consequences of placing derogatory comments about other players or match officials on any social networking sites. Not only does it reflect badly on the Club, but will result in disciplinary action and potentially could be reported to the Police via CEOP by the person affected.