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Footballers - Time to Step Away From Twitter

06/03/2014 13:10 GMT | Updated 05/05/2014 10:59 BST

Emmanuel Frimpong. Ryan Bennett. Steven Taylor. Jason Puncheon. Searching for a common theme? They're all players who have been charged by the FA for improper conduct on Twitter.

The list could go on and on, such is the startling regularity with which footballers are getting themselves into hot water over their comments posted on the internet. Still, it's a new technology and everyone's still trying to find the boundaries, right? Well, not really. These instances actually seem to have intensified recently, despite the Premier League drawing up guidelines for players using social media over a year ago.

More than three years have passed since Ryan Babel became the first player charged by the FA over comments made on Twitter and players are still falling foul of the regulations in new and inventive ways.

From three of the most recent cases, one involved a player appearing to threaten some fans, another concerned a player tweeting a picture which could charitably be described as racially insensitive and the third saw a player accusing a former manager of being "crooked" and never attending training.

The last of those, involving Jason Puncheon, is particularly notable because it shows the dangers of angry players venting to the internet. Neil Warnock, the subject of the Twitter tirade, would almost certainly have been well within his rights to sue Puncheon for defamation.

Puncheon was most likely not thinking of the consequences of what he seemed to believe was a justified rant at the time of writing of it, which brings us to the crux of the matter.

A large number of footballers are impulsive young men. Impulsive people are bound to do or say something ill-advised sooner or later, that's the problem with acting on impulse. However, where most people get to make their mistakes and learn from them quietly, footballers are under a microscope at all times and it just takes one mistake to ruin their reputations.

Before the advent of social media, this problem didn't exist, certainly not in the way we know today. A player exasperated by his manager's refusal to play him might text a friend a heat of the moment stream of invective about his boss to blow off steam. Nobody would be any the wiser and the player gets to vent some of his frustration and go about his job. Everyone wins.

Now, however, every waking thought goes on Twitter. Why text a single friend when you can let everybody know what you think? Unfortunately, 'everyone' includes the people you're complaining about and (more damagingly) the media. Surely the first thing in Footballer Media Training 101 is to not say anything derogatory about a fellow professional publicly? At this point, nobody has any right to be surprised when something they tweet in a fit of anger ends up splashed all over the tabloids the next day.

Since trying to help players deal with social media responsibly is clearly not working, it surely can't be long before clubs start to ban their players from tweeting en masse.

On the one hand, supporters have jumped at the chance to get to know their club's star players more intimately and the players have had the chance to show their human sides.

On the other hand, Twitter is becoming a massively distracting sideshow and supporters don't need to know what their favourite player is eating for breakfast that morning to love them. Not having a Twitter account never stopped David Beckham from being the most valuable player in the world. Then again, when you try to imagine his feud with Sir Alex Ferguson playing out over Twitter, it's hard to think that we weren't denied some fabulous entertainment.

But that's all it is. Footballers on social media provide cheap entertainment for fans, endless gossipy stories for newspapers and unnecessary drama for the clubs and players themselves. It's hard to see who really wins, if anyone.

Is it time to ban players from using social media? Probably not yet, but the time's coming. Any player who complains can be sent a simple message: What was good enough for Becks is good enough for you.

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