SAFEGUARDING young people and children applies as much online as it does face-to-face in today’s world.
Part of the role of The FA as the game’s governing body is to offer guidance. The FA are constantly looking to provide a supportive framework around everyone who participates in football, whatever their role.
This guidance role clearly extends to the use of digital platforms in a football context. Such platforms include websites, email, mobile messaging and use of social media sites such as Facebook, YouTube, Instagram and Twitter.
Of course, these technologies have huge benefits. For example, it’s so much easier nowadays for a team or club to let its players know the times of training sessions, meet-ups and match venues. However, The FA recognises that digital platforms can be misused, with increased risks to children and young people.
Football takes these risks extremely seriously. It’s with this in mind that a series of guidance notes have been developed, all listed below.
It’s essential that everyone involved in football makes informed decisions about how they use the internet, social media, mobile phone and email communications – particularly when children and young people are involved.
All participants are required to act in the sport’s best interests at all times and they should be aware that their postings on networking sites are likely to be subject to public and media scrutiny.
The FA recognises the use of such websites can be positive, but they ask that caution is exercised with the content of postings.
All comments on these networking sites may be considered public, and anything deemed improper which brings the game into disrepute could lead to disciplinary action.
It is the responsibility of everyone in football to reduce and eradicate threatening, abusive, indecent or insulting behaviour, and the interactive environment is no different.
Comments about match officials which imply bias and/or attack officials’ integrity in an overly personal nature are considered improper, as are remarks which include a reference to a person’s ethnic origin, colour, race, nationality, faith, gender, sexual orientation or disability would be considered an aggravating factor, and could attract a higher disciplinary sanction.
Darryn Marsh, Suffolk FA Football Services Manager & Designated Safeguarding Officer, said: “Every person involved in the game has the right to feel safe and free from abuse online.
“Social Media can be very positive for the game and we have seen many great examples of how this has increased fan bases and the enjoyment of the playing experience but it is vital that social media is used responsibility by all to ensure it is an enjoyable experience.
“I would highlight the importance of reporting inappropriate behaviour either direct to ourselves at Suffolk FA or via your Club Welfare Officer.”