Following some questionable behaviour by several of the Premier League’s most high-profile English footballers, the FA have introduced a new code of conduct for the country’s national team to abide by.
The use of social media plays a key part in the code, attempting to stop players harnessing their inner Joey Barton and instead use social networks in a positive, controversy-free manner.
Members of the England squad will be required to verify their tweets and Facebook posts with an appointed media officer. They’ve also got to refrain from aiming derogatory material at an organisation or individual, as tempting as that might be.
Failure to do so could lead to suspension from Roy Hodgson’s squad. Scary.
The FA’s new policy has handily coincided with Ashley Cole’s much-publicised tweet, in which he was less than complimentary about English football’s governing body.
But Cole’s indiscretion is just one in a long line of misguided posts from football’s Twitter brigade.
A host of stars have been caught out by the urge to splash their opinions all over the World Wide Web, with the likes of Carlton Cole, Ryan Babel and Danny Gabbidon all picking up hefty fines in the process.
Even Manchester United’s Rio Ferdinand, normally a force for good in the Twittersphere, was fined £45,000 for an ill-advised comment as recently as August.
That’s not to say that footballers using Twitter isn’t a good thing, for the most part anyway. The vast majority use the microblogging platform to engage with fans and deliver an unseen insight into the life of a professional player.
Among our personal favourites are Everton’s Phil Neville, Manchester City’s Vincent Kompany and Chelsea’s David Luiz. While ex-pros like Stan Collymore, Chris Kamara and Gary Lineker have developed a smart balance between football talk, funny lines and worthwhile debate.
Hopefully the threat of a ban will help the FA’s new initiative succeed, replacing foul-mouthed rants with interesting conversation and behind-the-scenes news.
But even if it doesn’t, one thing’s for sure, Twitter’s a more interesting place with footballers online.